More than 50 shops targeted by HMRC in Walthamstow alone

Alcohol and tobacco seized from shops

Tobacco and alcohol seized in one of the raids.

Tobacco and alcohol seized in one of the raids.

First published in News
Last updated
East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Hundreds of litres of alcohol and 54,000 cigarettes were seized last week from Walthamstow shops which failed to pay duty and VAT on the items.

A total of 50 independent stores and off licences were raided by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on Wednesday during an operation carried out with the Met and Waltham Forest Trading Standards.

Officers seized 446 litres of wine, 264 litres of spirits, 54,020 cigarettes and 9kg of hand rolling tobacco.

“This illegal trade has a devastating impact on legitimate retailers, who have to compete with black market traders,” HMRC spokeswoman Jennie Kendall said.

“It’s robbing the UK economy of vital funding and those selling these goods do not promote they are buying them from criminals – the profits of which are funding organised crime to the detriment of all our communities.”

Around £20,000 of revenue was lost as a result of the non-payment of taxes, according to HMRC.

Five premises will now have their licences to sell alcohol reviewed.

The police say the businesses invloved cannot be identified for legal reasons.

No arrests were made and investigations are ongoing.

Anyone with information on illegally imported goods, tax evasion or fraud can contact the customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.

Comments (4)

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1:53pm Mon 3 Mar 14

Villagecranberry says...

Great operation, well done to all involved. It is well known on the street that these premises that sell 'cheap booze and tobacco products' are able to do so as they are not paying proper duty on them, thereby undercutting rivals who do.

The thing is these are licensed premises and their licenses should be withdrawn if they engage if such practices as they should be deemed unfit to hold a licence. This of course will not happen as that is why they do it in the first place.
Great operation, well done to all involved. It is well known on the street that these premises that sell 'cheap booze and tobacco products' are able to do so as they are not paying proper duty on them, thereby undercutting rivals who do. The thing is these are licensed premises and their licenses should be withdrawn if they engage if such practices as they should be deemed unfit to hold a licence. This of course will not happen as that is why they do it in the first place. Villagecranberry
  • Score: 7

2:26pm Mon 3 Mar 14

cynicalsue says...

Close them down. Or HUGE fines so they get the message.
Close them down. Or HUGE fines so they get the message. cynicalsue
  • Score: 7

3:04pm Mon 3 Mar 14

Techno3 says...

3 quick points:

1. Divide the figures for goods seized by 50 and it looks like HMRC actually siezed quite tiny amounts of contraband per shop. E.g. Less than 9 litres of wine, 5 and a quarter litres of spirits, 54 packets of cigarettes (less than 6 cartons), and a miniscule amount of handrolling tobacco. These sounds like the sort of stock that could have been acquired on a day trip to Calais.

2. The HMRC value those goods at 400 pounds per shop. They are the experts and I won't disagree, but this is not, to my mind, evidence of the kinds of massive tax frauds one would expect them to be concentrating on if they were serious about sorting out the nation's finances in a cost-effective manner. They could potentially recover vastly larger sums by visiting the headquarters of the likes of Vodafone or Google.

3. People buy (and shopkeepers sell) these untaxed products because the legitimate system of duty is not working. These shopkeepers have to compete with gangs on our streets (the Chinese gang has operated openly in Walthamstow High Street for at least 8 years) who don't even pretend to be selling properly taxed goods. Yes, there is a risk that what they sell is dodgy, but the fact is their untaxed products are hugely cheaper than the legitimate taxed products and make it very difficult for legal operators to compete. Personally, this suggests to me that the taxes on booze and wine are too high.
3 quick points: 1. Divide the figures for goods seized by 50 and it looks like HMRC actually siezed quite tiny amounts of contraband per shop. E.g. Less than 9 litres of wine, 5 and a quarter litres of spirits, 54 packets of cigarettes (less than 6 cartons), and a miniscule amount of handrolling tobacco. These sounds like the sort of stock that could have been acquired on a day trip to Calais. 2. The HMRC value those goods at 400 pounds per shop. They are the experts and I won't disagree, but this is not, to my mind, evidence of the kinds of massive tax frauds one would expect them to be concentrating on if they were serious about sorting out the nation's finances in a cost-effective manner. They could potentially recover vastly larger sums by visiting the headquarters of the likes of Vodafone or Google. 3. People buy (and shopkeepers sell) these untaxed products because the legitimate system of duty is not working. These shopkeepers have to compete with gangs on our streets (the Chinese gang has operated openly in Walthamstow High Street for at least 8 years) who don't even pretend to be selling properly taxed goods. Yes, there is a risk that what they sell is dodgy, but the fact is their untaxed products are hugely cheaper than the legitimate taxed products and make it very difficult for legal operators to compete. Personally, this suggests to me that the taxes on booze and wine are too high. Techno3
  • Score: 1

5:33pm Mon 3 Mar 14

Thunderbird4 says...

You can tell the crap hand-rolling tobacco, it tastes foul and probably doesn't do your health much good. Is that ironic? (Much like the foul tasting "wine".)

The names of premises that sell contraband goods should be made public, so I don't go and buy unhealthy goods - that's Health and Safety; isn't it?
You can tell the crap hand-rolling tobacco, it tastes foul and probably doesn't do your health much good. Is that ironic? (Much like the foul tasting "wine".) The names of premises that sell contraband goods should be made public, so I don't go and buy unhealthy goods - that's Health and Safety; isn't it? Thunderbird4
  • Score: 0

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