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HMRC internal manual

Tobacco Products Duty

Fraud and theft: General

This section deals with the general scope for revenue fraud and security problems inregistered premises and how, as far as possible, fraud and theft can be prevented anddetected. Detailed guidance on legal proceedings and compounding can be found in X-53“Offences”.

The Department’s reliance upon traders’ physical and documentary controls, forsecuring and collecting the revenue, emphasises the need for vigilance and revenueawareness by all officers concerned in countering and detecting fraud.

Tobacco products, especially cigarettes, are among the most desirable, pilferable, easilyhandled, and disposable items with which this Department is concerned. Due to the highduty rates there may be a strong incentive for trader employees, at all levels from theshop floor to management, to defraud. Such persons as outside contractors, hauliers,refuse collectors and other people visiting registered premises may also have theopportunity to steal tobacco products.

Tobacco products are valuable, high-risk goods and fraud is just as likely to occur inregistered premises as in other regimes and premises under official control. There is theincentive and opportunity for frauds of considerable complexity, as well as the simpleunrecorded removal of products from registered premises or the diversion of productsintended for duty-unpaid storage. The destruction of product away from the trader’sown premises also provides an opportunity for abstraction and theft

Most frauds include some falsification of records to avoid the loss coming to officialnotice. Falsification of records and accounts, creation of surplus (unrecorded) stocks,fictitious accidents and manipulation of losses are recurring features of detected fraudcases.

Officers’ powers of entry and search are covered in section TPD4040.You may search any vehicle at, entering or leaving registered premises. Occasionalsearches of commercial vehicles servicing the premises or used to deliver or remove goodsare a useful deterrent to theft. The power of search should, however, be used judiciouslyfor private vehicles belonging to employees of the tobacco manufacturer. Such searchesshould be conducted only in cases of suspicion or in conjunction with operations by thetrader’s own security staff against “targeted” individuals. You shouldconduct a search of person only with the consent of the individual or in cases wheresearch of person is justified following an arrest. When conducting searches you shouldfollow the guidance in G5-2 “Criminal investigation procedures”.