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Multi-agency operations take place across Peterborough to tackle illegal vapes and tobacco

20 February 2024

Two multi-agency operations have been carried out across Peterborough recently to crack down on illegal vapes and tobacco, resulting in the seizure of 1,767 vapes, 4.35 kilos of hand rolling tobacco and 58,060 cigarettes.

The first of the operations on 24 January was part of Operation Sustainable – a police led, multi-agency initiative to improve wellbeing and drive down crime in local communities. The enforcement operation was led by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards, and was run in conjunction with the Police, Peterborough City Council’s Environmental Health team and HMRC. Seizures were made at three shops in the city, where teams uncovered a total of 954 vapes, 3.85 kilos of hand rolling tobacco and 19,520 cigarettes.

The second operation a week later was part of Operation Cece – an HMRC co-ordinated operation to crack down on illegal tobacco, led by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards, and run in conjunction with the Police, HMRC and Environmental Health. One shop that had had all its illegal stock seized the previous week was visited again, and sniffer dogs uncovered a further secret hide containing 20,000 illegal cigarettes.

Across all shops raided that day, a further 813 vapes, 0.5 kilos hand rolling tobacco and 38,540 illegal cigarettes were seized as part of this second operation. Enforcement sanctions will be imposed on all the shops, including the commencement of two criminal prosecutions and a closure order.

This is part of ongoing multi-agency enforcement across the city to tackle the supply of illegal tobacco and nicotine products. In the past 12 months, Trading Standards has seized nearly 10,000 illegal vapes, 18 kilos of hand rolling tobacco and more than 250,000 illegal cigarettes in Peterborough.

Issues include vapes with tank sizes that are illegal in the UK due to the quantities of liquid they contain, vapes that wrongly state they contain no nicotine, cigarettes in packaging that does not comply with UK requirements on labelling and imagery, and non-duty paid hand rolling tobacco.

The operations are entirely Intelligence driven, with all the teams receiving extensive Intelligence from the public about where such products are being sold from. This work comes as the government announces proposals to ban disposable vapes and ensure vapes conform to plainer packaging requirements, tighter restrictions on display and strict limits on flavouring to make them less child appealing.

Jacqui Harvey, Head of Operations for Peterborough City Council’s Regulatory Services said: “These ongoing, targeted enforcement operations send a clear message to the organised crime gangs that the sale of illegal tobacco and nicotine products won’t be tolerated in Peterborough, and we are committed to taking a hard line with anyone we uncover perpetrating these crimes.

"The level of Intelligence we receive from the public is also indicative of local feeling towards these crimes. They don’t want these crimes being committed in their local communities, and we will continue to tackle it on their behalf.

"If you would like to share intelligence or even suspicions on any such criminal activity, you can report it online, anonymously if you wish, at The website also contains extensive information on how to spot illegal tobacco and nicotine products. Alternatively, if you’d rather speak to someone, you can contact Trading Standard’s advice partner, the Citizens Advice Consumer Service, on 0808 223 1133 Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm, remaining anonymous if you wish."

Inspector Lyndsay Mylchreest, from Peterborough’s Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “This work has been a multi-agency approach to improving the Millfield area, including tackling organised crime and associated anti-social behaviour, developing the environment and infrastructure and creating opportunities for the community.

“Many agencies in the area have made a commitment to come together to tackle issues raised by the community and make it a better place for all those who live and work in the area, of which this piece of work is just one example of that commitment.”