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Wiltshire Police and HM Revenue and Customs operation focused on excise fraud and motoring offences
12:06pm Thursday 21st March 2013 in Latest News
Three people have been arrested, 1.5 tonnes of tobacco seized and over 100 fixed penalty notices issued during a crackdown targeting motorists on the M4.
The joint operation by Wiltshire Police and HM Revenue and Customs focused on excise fraud and motoring offences.
HMRC was looking for illegal alcohol, tobacco or vehicles using non-road fuel while Wiltshire Police officers identified breaches of the Road Traffic Act.
As part of the operation officers seized 1.5 tonnes of tobacco with an estimated £200,000 duty evaded and a man from the Nottingham area has been arrested.
Police issued 106 fixed penalty notices with fines totalling over £18,000 for road traffic offences including 56 dangerously overweight vehicles.
Two vans loaded with non-duty paid alcohol, including vodka and wine, with an estimated £7,000 duty evaded were seized, as were a car and four commercial vehicles being driven without insurance, a van running on red diesel and a commercial vehicle being driven without a licence.
A commercial driver was also arrested for for drink-driving and the UK Border Agency also made an arrest for immigration offences.
Simon De-Kayne, HMRC Assistant Director Criminal Investigation, said: “This four-day blitz has been a success for HMRC and our law enforcement partners.
"Together we have prevented substantial quantities of illegal tobacco and alcohol from reaching the South West’s streets and opened further avenues of enquiry.
“Tobacco fraud alone costs the UK Government around £1.8 billion a year. Anyone with information about this type of crime should contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
Craig Hardy, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement and Road Safety Partnerships Sergeant, who headed the operation for Wiltshire Police, said: “This operation has been a great success and, as a direct result of it, we have made the section of the M4 running through Wiltshire a safer place for motorists.
“Issuing more than 100 fixed penalty tickets for various road traffic offences in just four days goes to show that there are a number of motorists who flout the law which is in place to not only protect them but also other road users.
"We have prosecuted 56 drivers whose commercial vehicles were overloaded, several were found to be over 60 per cent overweight, and seized several uninsured commercial vehicles. We will continue to target these types of offences in the future.
“This operation is a great example of good partnership working with other key agencies. I hope this operation and its results highlight the dedication of Wiltshire Police in tackling road safety issues in our county.”
During the four day operation approximately 450 mostly light commercial vehicles, travelling between Membury Services and junction 15 of the M4, were stopped. Of those, about 125 vehicles were escorted to a weighbridge near Swindon for further examination by Police and HMRC officers.
The operation ran from Monday, March 11, to Thursday, March 14, and involved around 25 officers and investigators each day.