Closure orders have been brought by North East councils for a shop selling counterfeit cigarettes and houses which were subject of crime and disorder complaints.

The shop, in Thornaby, was closed for selling illicit and counterfeit tobacco products to customers.

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council secured a three-month closure order relating to the store, at 103 Westbury Street, after an application made at Teesside Magistrates’ Court, on Friday (20 October).

The court was told several complaints were made to the council over the sale of counterfeit products.

The Northern Echo: Trading standards officer posts closure notice on shop selling counterfeit tobacco products in

Several test purchases by undercover trading standards officers from the council confirmed that illicit cigarettes were being sold from the shop which did not comply with tobacco labelling regulations.

On each occasion the shopkeeper went to pick up the illicit products from a rear storage area, hidden out of sight.

Read more: Cleveland Police close house on Petch Close in Middlesbrough

The court was told that despite the business operator being warned about criminal activity at the store, further test purchases were made of illicit tobacco products and more complaints were received from local residents.

Councillor Norma Stephenson, the council's cabinet member for access, communities and community safety, said: “Counterfeit cigarettes pose a big risk to communities because it's very difficult to know what is in them and it's incredibly worrying that such cigarettes are being sold to people.

“I'm pleased our trading standards officers have been able to secure the maximum closure order of three months.

“I’d like to thank them for their hard work and also thank the local residents who refused to put up with these criminal activities on their doorstep.

“This closure order once again shows we will not hesitate to take action to stop the sale of illicit and counterfeit tobacco.

“I’d also encourage local people to report any sales of illicit tobacco to us so we can take the necessary action.”

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The undercover action was taken as part of Operation Cece, which is run in partnership with the National Trading Standards and HM Revenue and Customs to help tackle the sales of illicit tobacco.

Lord Michael Bichard, who chairs National Trading Standards, said: "The trade in illegal tobacco harms local communities and affects honest businesses operating within the law.

“Having removed 27 million illegal cigarettes, 7,500kg of hand rolling tobacco and almost 175kg of shisha products from sale, the National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC continues to successfully disrupt this illicit trade.”

Anyone with information on the supply of illicit tobacco from any business or residential premises in the Borough is urged to contact trading standards by email to, or by ringing (01642) 526560.

In a separate case, magistrates granted closure orders on three Hartlepool houses following applications by community safety officials.

The multi-agency Hartlepool Community Safety Team secured orders on 14 and 16 Stephen Street and 3 Keswick Street, all of which will remain in place for three months.

In the case of a fourth property, 7 Keswick Street, the closure order application was contested so a temporary order was granted, extending an existing closure notice until a further court hearing on November 3.

The Hartlepool Community Safety Team applied to Teesside Magistrates for the orders following complaints from residents concerned about crime and disorder occurring in both streets.

Councillor Mike Young, the leader of Hartlepool Borough Council and Chair of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership, said: “We are determined to tackle criminal behaviour that is ruining the lives of law-abiding residents and we hope that these orders send out a clear message to that effect.”

Investigations were said to reflect activity at the Stephen Street addresses involving county lines drug supply, organised crime, other drug dealing and anti-social behaviour.

In Keswick Street the problems include drug dealing, supplying illicit substances to young people, violence with weapons, threats involving petrol bombs and damage to residents’ properties and cars.

Councillor Young said: “The Hartlepool Community Safety Team brings together staff from Hartlepool Borough Council, Cleveland Police and Cleveland Fire Brigade.

“By working with other partners, such as Thirteen Group, which in this case owns 3 Keswick Street, we really are able to make a difference.”

Chris Marshall, head of housing services at Thirteen, said: "We always put the safety of our customers and the community where they live first, so we will not tolerate our homes being used for crime and anti-social behaviour as we understand the devastating impact behaviour like this can have.

“We are pleased these closure orders have been granted and we’ll continue to work in partnership with Hartlepool Borough Council and Cleveland Police to reduce anti-social behaviour and crime in our communities.”

The closure orders prevent the tenants from accessing the properties.

Read next:

Rental property on Bush Street, Middlesbrough, given closure order

Closure order on Sacriston house which plagued community

County Durham court closes store for 'anti-social behaviour'

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“The maximum penalty for a breach of an order is six-months’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

Anyone who witnesses an order being breached should call the police on 101, or 999 in an emergency.

Alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on (0800) 555111.