a red fox labrador stands on his hind legs, with his front legs on a large bin

Detection dog scores ‘rubbish’ find

Thousands of counterfeit cigarettes, tobacco pouches and vapes have been recovered from a secret compartment in the bottom of an industrial bin. Officers form Hull City Council’s Public Protection team partnered with detection dog service BWY Canine and police for targeted visits to six locations in the city. Illegal products were found at five of the premises, as well as inside a car.

Detection dog Cooper tracked down the find of the day inside a giant wheeled bin. A video captured at the scene shows the dog excitedly exploring a gap between two bins – tail banging on them loudly as he gets the scent of the products he has been trained to track down.

Initially officers searched through the bin, but with Cooper insistent the goods were round the back, a closer look revealed a well-concealed compartment stuffed with products.

In total across the six seizures, 214 50g tobacco pouches, 21,420 cigarettes and 535 vapes were found, in the bin and in the car. An investigation by the Trading Standards team is now underway.

Chris Wilson, City Trading Standards Officer, said: “This was a great piece of partnership work, leading to a significant amount of contraband tobacco being taken off the streets. Our public protection team and the police are very skilled at using their knowledge and intelligence supplied to them to identify sources of illicit tobacco. But working with a detection dog is an added tool for identifying extremely unusual and well-concealed hiding places which would be impossible to find without a dog’s sensitive nose.

“Counterfeit tobacco is not a victimless crime. The low price prevents people from quitting, attracts children and young people, and funds other crime. The products – including vapes – are also not subject to any of the regulations or checks that legally sold products are.

“Our communities need support to stop smoking, not a ready supply of cheap, unchecked tobacco. Visits like this are a regular part of the work our team and colleagues at the police do. The message to suppliers is that it’s simply not worth it. Supplies will be found and seized and those behind it will face consequences”.

In 2023 a total of 1,053,540 cigarettes, 5312 packs of tobacco and 26,868 vapes were recovered. So far in 2024 the stats are 423,980 cigarettes, 3,734 packs of tobacco and 12,132 vapes.

For free support to stop smoking, search SmokeFree Hull, or call: 01482 977 617. Report someone selling illicit tobacco anonymously to Citizen’s Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133, or visit keepitout.co.uk and report anonymously online.

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