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Closure orders have been imposed on three addresses in Warrington in response to anti-social and criminal behaviour linked to them.
Cheshire Constabulary executed warrants at the International Mini Market and Tymbark shops and the flats above them in Orford Lane, Warrington, at around 2pm on Wednesday 17 March.
This followed reports of anti-social behaviour linked to the premises having a significant detrimental effect on the local area.
Approximately 50,000 packets of counterfeit cigarettes and around 3kg of counterfeit tobacco were seized as a result of the raids, as was a quantity of cash.
Officers imposed 48-hour closure notices on the stores and one of the flats, and subsequently applied for three-month closure orders to be enforced on the three addresses.
The application was granted by Chester Crown Court on Friday 19 March, under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
Inspector Danny Haddock, of Warrington Local Policing Unit (LPU), said: “The closure orders being secured stem from us receiving numerous reports of activity linked to the addresses having a substantial negative impact on the quality of life of local residents.
“Criminality of any kind will not be tolerated here at Warrington LPU.
“We will not let criminal and anti-social behaviour of others continue to have a detrimental effect on the people who suffer from it.
“The closure orders make it illegal for anyone to be at any of the three properties for three months.
“I want to thank the members of the community who reported their concerns regarding the premises to us.
"I hope the action we have subsequently taken sends a strong message to people living in Warrington. The message is that we will listen to their concerns and use the full remit of the law to tackle criminal and anti-social behaviour and make the town an even better place to live, work and visit.
“I also hope that these closure orders encourage other members of the Warrington community to inform us of any concerns they have regarding criminal or anti-social behaviour where they live.”
Sergeant Alex Reeves, who applied for the closure orders on behalf of the Warrington Problem Solving Team, added: “The closure orders that have been secured and the large quantity of counterfeit tobacco products that have been seized are the results of a multi-agency operation.
“Acting on intelligence supplied by members of the community, we launched an investigation and requested the assistance of HM Revenue and Customs, Warrington Borough Council’s trading standards department and the UK Visas and Immigration service.
“We subsequently worked together to tackle criminal and anti-social behaviour involving the addresses in Orford Lane.
“The premises were sources of significant anti-social behaviour and environmental issues in the area.
“There were parking problems caused by the amount of people going to the shops where the counterfeit tobacco products were being sold, as well as issues stemming from children trying to get adults to buy the products for them.
“There were also littering and fly-tipping issues linked to the addresses.
“I am pleased the closure orders have been secured.
“The orders will no doubt have a positive impact on the local area.
“We will conduct regular checks of the premises whilst the orders are in place to ensure that they are not breached.
“If anyone is found to have breached a closure order they are liable to be arrested and face up to six months in prison, an unlimited fine or both.
“I am also pleased that a large quantity of counterfeit tobacco products are no longer destined for members of our community.
“Not only does the sale of counterfeit tobacco products harm legitimate businesses, and society in general due to no tax being paid for them, it is also dangerous.
“Those who buy such products don’t know what is in them and what the money they have paid will be used for.
“Counterfeit cigarettes also present a greater risk of causing a fire than legitimate cigarettes that conform to reduced ignition propensity (RIP) regulations.”
Four men were spoken to at the addresses when the raids were carried out.
Their details have been passed on to HM Revenue and Customs, who are investigating the counterfeit tobacco products that were found in the properties.
Anyone with information regarding anti-social behaviour or counterfeit tobacco products in Warrington or anywhere else in Cheshire is asked to call 101, give the details via - Report - or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.