A very special government agent has helped sniff out illegal tobacco in Newcastle.

Scamp the sniffer dog joined an operation run by Newcastle City Council’s Trading Standards Team and Staff from HMRC.

Operation Beagle was a three-day project targeting shops in Newcastle’s West End. During the operation, 183,360 cigarettes and 46.2 kilos of rolling tobacco were confiscated.

Scamp – a six-year-old springer spaniel – played a key part in the proceedings. In one shop, the specially trained sniffer dog discovered tobacco hidden in a concealed compartment behind a bathroom wall. The shop – though under suspicion – had been investigated several times before without success.

In another incident, officers discovered around 80,000 cigarettes hidden behind a chute in a storage unit – their biggest ever haul of illegal tobacco from a commercial property.

Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Nick Kemp, said, “The success of this operation has been remarkable and it has dealt a huge blow to the supply of illegal cigarettes in the city.”

“This will hit criminals where it hurts them most.”

“Sniffer dog scamp was a huge asset and his powerful nose unearthed intricate hiding places which the human eye had previously missed. His role in these seizures has been incredible.”

“I’m delighted for our officers, who work tirelessly, as their efforts have been well-rewarded by this outcome.”

“Illegal tobacco leads to children becoming addicted to smoking, promotes this deadly habit and often funds criminals. I want it to be clear that we will not stop coming after those who break the rules.”

Illegal tobacco products include those that are counterfeit, that do not display the required labelling for the UK market or have been imported without the correct duty being paid.

Anybody with any information about the sale or distribution of illegal tobacco in the Newcastle area can telephone 0300 999 0000 or visit https://keep-it-out.co.uk/.

(The featured image shows the sniffer dogs Yoyo and Scamp.)

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