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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 in registered premises and how, as far as possible, fraud and theft can be prevented and detected. Detailed guidance on legal proceedings and compounding can be found in X-53 “Offences”.

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

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

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

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

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