HUNDREDS of counterfeit cigarettes have been seized as part of a crackdown on illegal tobacco trading in Bury.

More than 6,000 illicit cigarettes were seized from businesses within the town centre during a day of action.

Four premises were shut down on suspicion of electricity abstraction and for environmental issues.

It was the latest instalment of action undertaken by several partner agencies to tackle rogue businesses, electricity abstraction, human trafficking and poor practices.

In the past year, visits have been conducted at 33 retail premises, including off-licences, takeaways and corner shops, with illegal activity discovered at more than half of them.

The latest day of action on November 22 saw the team seize more than 6,000 counterfeit cigarettes and 1.5kg of illicit loose tobacco from nine shops.

Supt Paul Walker, District Commander for Bury Police, said: “These days of action show how committed we are to tackling the concerns of residents. We will continue to work with partners to stamp out rogue trading or illicit behaviour.

"I want to say thank you to everyone who has been in touch with us — your information is vital to the success of this operation.”

No arrests have been made at this stage.

Over the past year, 14 businesses have been found illegally abstracting electricity, resulting in immediate temporary closure.

Some 10,500 illicit cigarettes and 2.1kg of loose hand-rolling tobacco have been seized.

The operation is supported by partners from Greater Manchester Police, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Trading Standards, North West Electricity, Wagtails, and Bury Council's Licensing, Environmental Services and Housing Standards.

Angela Lomax, head of trading standards and licensing, said: "Bury Council enforcement staff are happy to support these days of action which have revealed some concerning criminality and health and safety issues.

"We hope that this sends a message out that rogue traders are not welcome in Bury.”