Taunton vaping shop closed down

Police and Trading Standards have joined forces to secure the closure of a Taunton vaping shop.

A closure against the European Shop in North Street, which was granted by magistrates at Taunton Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (18 July).

Following a joint investigation, officers from Police and Trading Standards carried out a search of the property. One employee was found working in a small fabricated building on the roof of the building. The entrance had a hatch kept in place by a magnet, which could be lifted to deliver items directly into the store. Inside this building were 2,433 packets of illegal cigarette and 323 pouches of illegal tobacco. The illegal items had an estimated value of £15,300. A quantity of non-compliant vapes were also seized.

Magistrates granted the closure order for three months. The evidence they were presented with included:

  • Counterfeit and illegal vapes and tobacco were being sold with no health warnings, as required by UK law. A total of £28,000 worth were seized from the premises overall.
  • Vapes and drug paraphernalia were being sold to children.
  • Anti-social behaviour was a problem in the local area caused by people who’d bought goods from the premises, which was negatively impacting on nearby businesses and their customers. This included groups of younger people who were buying vape products.

In addition, during the course of the most recent raid on the premises, more than £1,500 worth of damage was caused to an unmarked police car.

Speaking after the closure order was obtained, Cerwyn Pritchard, Anti-Social Behaviour Co-ordinator at Avon and Somerset Police, said: “This was a shocking and blatant attempt to sell counterfeit and illegal cigarettes, tobacco and vaping products to the public, including children. The illicit activities at this store were having a significant impact on the local community with reports of anti-social behaviour and intimidation. We worked closely with our Trading Standards partners to build a strong and compelling case for a closure order, to help put an end to the corrosive impact this store was having on the neighbourhood. We’re pleased the court has granted this order and we won’t hesitate to take similar action against any other business owners acting in this way.”

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