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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Police crackdown on illicit sales: two Harehills shops lose licences

Two shops have lost their premises licences as part of efforts to tackle illicit drink and tobacco sales in a deprived city community.

Police applied for reviews of the alcohol licences for Bucharest off-licence and Krakus, both in Harehills after goods were seized.

The Harehills Road shops had their licences revoked in separate hearings of Leeds City Council’s licensing sub-committee.

The committee heard that 36 bottles of wine, 19 bottles of spirits and 6,740 cigarettes were seized from Bucharest during an unannounced visit on August 30 last year.

Excise duty owed on the goods was calculated at almost £3,000.

PC Neil Haywood told the hearing there were widespread problems with illicit sales in Harehills, fuelling anti-social behaviour and underage drinking and smoking.

He said: “This type of behaviour has consequences and it is the community that suffers from it.”

Gipton and Harehills council Asghar Ali said many children would pass the off-licence on their way to nearby schools. He said: “Are they buying sweets or are they buying cigarettes?”

Bucharest’s licence holder was not represented at the hearing.

Krakus was targeted in the same operation, which involved police, council, HMRC and Trading Standards officers.

High-strength Polish beer and bottles of vodka were seized at the premises. The excise duty owed on the goods was calculated at £790.

Coun Ali said: “This is alcohol that is served to alcohol-dependent people.”

A man was working in the shop who did not have permission to be employed in the UK, police said.

The committee heard that Krakus’s designated premises supervisor, Muzafar Piroti, had been abroad for medical treatment and did not know about the illicit goods.

Geoff Dixon, representing Mr Piroti, said: “Mr Piroti has not sold alcohol to children. He has not sold cigarettes to children.

“He’s had licences before and never had a problem.  He was out of the country when this was happening.

“Every step has now been taken to correct all the issues.”

Councillors were told that Harehills had a high incidence of alcohol-related ambulance call-outs, hospital stays and violent disorder.

Health improvement specialist Emilia Slezak told the hearing that people who bought illicit tobacco and alcohol did not always know what substances the products contained. She said: “From a public health perspective that is really concerning.”

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