Two stores in Darlington that are suspected of illegally selling vapes to children have seen their closure orders extended by magistrates.

An investigation involving Darlington Borough Council’s trading standards team and Durham Constabulary closed the stores after they were suspected of supplying both vapes and cigarettes to children as young as twelve.

Neasham Road Mini Market, at 149 Neasham Road and Easy Shop on Victoria Road are now to be closed until the 1st September and for a further 30 days respectively whilst police continue their investigation.

The Northern Echo: Easy Shop will be closed for another 30 days.Easy Shop will be closed for another 30 days. (Image: GOOGLE EARTH)

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Peterlee Magistrates Court heard and approved the application to extend the closures on May 23, meaning that only tradesman and the landlords of the property are permitted to enter the stores.

This latest extension follows the ongoing investigation into the stores after they were first closed for just three months, as other investigations take place on other premises in Darlington.

The Northern Echo: Neasham Road Mini Market will be closed until September 1. Neasham Road Mini Market will be closed until September 1. (Image: GOOGLE EARTH)

Trading Standards and Animal Health manager for Darlington Borough Council, Shaun Trevor, has affirmed the council is adopting a zero-tolerance approach on this matter.

He said: “Darlington trading standards will continue to take a zero-tolerance stance to the supply of illegal vapes and cigarettes, particularly when they are sold to children.

“We will use every available tool to put a stop to these traders and will continue to work with partner agencies in order to have the greatest impact. If you have any information on the supply of these illegal goods then please report it to us, anonymously if you wish.”

Detective Constable Jonathan Keenan of Durham Constabulary is now asking members of the public to report information regarding criminality to the police.

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He said:  “Illicit and dangerous tobacco and vapes can not only cause serious harm to people’s health, but the proceeds are often invested into organised crime and can help fund more serious and violent offences.

“We know that our communities will not tolerate the antisocial behaviour and criminality that these activities bring.

“If you have any information regarding potential criminality in your community then please report it to us - we will always act on intelligence submitted to us, as these closure orders have shown.”