Seven to Seven 308 Clapham Road, London SW9 9AE Prem 893

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1 1 Seven to Seven 308 Clapham Road, London SW9 9AE Prem On Thursday 25 th June 2015 Lambeth Trading Standards with Police support from the Larkhall Police Safer Neighbourhood Team conducted visits to licensed premises in Lambeth because of Police suspicions drug dealing was taking place. 2. At 12.30pm we entered Seven to Seven 308 Clapham Road, London SW9 9AE, a small off licence/grocery store. Although the shop is called 7 to 7, it is licensed to sell alcohol from 06:00 until 00:00. It is set back from Clapham Road in Sturridge Court and is in the corner with a service road that comes in and out. I identified myself and introduced the team to the sales assistant Mr Abraham GEBREMEDHIN. There was another man in the shop and a large amount of cash was passed between the two, when I enquired I was told it was shop money for banking. 3. Mr Gebremadhin said he was the brother of Mr Mulugheta Weldai the alcohol licence holder and the Designated Premises Supervisor for this premises. He agreed that we could close the shop temporarily in order that we could conduct our inspection in private and undisturbed by customers entering and wanting service. The premises was inspected. 4. In the rear store Mr Nazmul KABIR aka Mr Mohammad Nazmul KABIR was found making up packs of dipping tobacco also known as moist snuff. This is a type of finely ground or shredded tobacco moistened with water. Like Shisha tobacco it can be flavoured. A lump or 'dip' is placed between the lip and gum. It is thought that Snus, dipping tobacco, moist snuff and chewing tobacco are filling the void in the market now khat importation to the UK has been banned. Mr Kabir was preparing the product in a washing up bowl with a large spoon and filling plastic bags. He was wearing a face mask to protect himself from the dust/fumes. There was no information that UK duty had been paid and there were no UK Health warnings displayed. 5. Police checks revealed that Mr Kabir is an asylum seeker who currently has an application outstanding with the Home Office and is reporting as required to the UKBA Office in Croydon. He said that he was represented by lawyers who took his money but did not submit an application and was now awaiting the outcome of a judicial review to determine his fate. He did not however have the right to work in the UK. 6. He initially denied he was working there, however in the face of the overwhelming evidence he admitted he did get some pocket money for preparing the product. I told him that he should not be working either paid or unpaid if his conditions are that he is not to work. 7. All the dipping tobacco was seized. Mr Gebremadhin said the tobacco was bought from Shepherds Bush market, and that this product was popular in Sudan, he states he sells it at 50p a bag. Analysis will be carried out of the seized products in due course. 1

2 2 8. Under the counter were found 200 small tins of Makla Bouhlel Bentchicou tobacco snuff which were seized. There was no information that UK duty had been paid and there were no UK Health warnings displayed. 9. An examination of the spirits on display for sale revealed twenty two, 70cl illicit bottles of sprits which were confiscated that were UK Duty diverted. UK Duty diverted is an organised criminal racket where genuine product is sold for export, however en route is diverted onto the domestic market without UK HMRC duty being paid, which is about 9 per bottle. The rear duty free labels on the bottles are removed and fake labels complete with counterfeit HMRC duty stamps are applied. They are then sold to smaller licensed retail outlets for cash by white van man. Eleven (11) 70cl bottles of Glen s vodka (UK HMRC Duty diverted) Eleven (11) 35cl bottles of Glen s vodka (UK HMRC Duty diverted) 10. During the inspection Mr Mulugheta Weldai the alcohol licence holder and the Designated Premises Supervisor in respect of alcohol sales attended the venue. He was very quiet - possibly embarrassed. There was one fire extinguisher a 6 litre water with a last checked by date of 3/13. Fire extinguishers should be checked and serviced annually. 11. I issued Trading Standards Notice number to Mr Mulugheta Weldai and we left the premises. 12. On Monday 26th October 2015 Lambeth Trading Standards supported by Police Licencing, and Stockwell SNT Police Officers conducted under age test purchasing for age restricted goods, using volunteer test purchasers aged 15 years old. At 15:02 hours Test Purchaser Zebra a girl aged 15 years old entered Seven to Seven 308 Clapham Road, London SW9 9AE, a small off licence/grocery store. She selected a 750 ml bottle of Gallo Family white Grenache wine 9.5% alcohol by volume. 13. She approached the counter where she was served by a woman who later identified herself as Mrs Nigisti GEBERMEDHIN. No questions were asked of the test purchaser, who paid for the wine and left the shop. 14. Outside the Test Purchaser handed the wine to a Trading Standards Officer who immediately entered the shop, I identified myself and challenged Mrs Geberhedhin over the sale. At this time there were two men standing in the shop and I noticed one was drinking a bottle of beer. I understand from my colleague that the other man was also drinking. They left the shop before they could be challenged. I pointed out to Mrs Gebermedhin that she had sold alcohol to a 15 year old and cautioned her. She said it was difficult to tell how old, young people are. I advised her to adopt a check 25 policy in that anybody looking under 25 will be asked for ID when buying age restricted goods. Police Officers attended. 2

3 3 15. Mrs Gebermedhin called her husband who she said was the Designated Premises Supervisor responsible for all sales of alcohol from this venue. She agreed that we could close the shop temporarily in order that we deal with the under age sale in private and undisturbed by customers entering and wanting service. Mr Abraham GEBREMEDHIN arrived shortly afterwards. He was informed of the under age sale and was apologetic. 16. An inspection behind the counter revealed; Ten (10) packs of 20 Marlborough cigarettes with believed Polish health warnings (UK duty not paid and no UK health warnings) Seventeen (17) 20 gram tins of Makla Bouhlel Benchicou Belgian tobacco snuff (No UK health warnings) Five (5) 50 gram packs of Al Fakher shisha tobacco (No UK health warnings) 17. Mr Gebremedhin had little to say in regard to the illicit tobacco products that were seized, other than they were for his own use, an excuse that was not accepted, with the amount seized. The alcohol stock on this occasion was checked and found to be satisfactory. 18. Mr Mohammad Nazmul KABIR was working in the shop, although he only admitted to helping out a few days a week. I recalled he was working in the shop in June when I last carried out an inspection. He has claimed political asylum and I understand his case is awaiting a judicial review. It would appear he is again in breach of his conditions of being in the UK by working. In June he was preparing dipping tobacco also known as moist snuff. Also seized on that occasion were some 200 identical tins of Makla Bouhlel Benchicou Belgian tobacco snuff with no UK health warnings. 19. It was pointed out to Mr Gebremedhin that people had been drinking alcohol in his shop which he found hard to believe. We therefore rewound the CCTV which took some time as the time was incorrect, however eventually it was seen, as well as Mr Kabir working in the shop. In order to preserve this evidence a copy of the CCTV was requested and I understand this was supplied. Mrs Nigisti GEBERMEDHIN said she normally works as an Accountant however was working at her husbands' shop this day. Police issued her a 90 Fixed Penalty Ticket for selling alcohol to a person under age. The option of having the matter heard at Court was also explained. 3

4 4 20. Lambeth Trading Standards Notice 1202 was issued to Mr Gebremedhin covering the issues of; Illicit tobacco Under age sale of alcohol Customers drinking in the shop Employing a person without the right to work in the UK Requesting a copy of the CCTV from 12 noon to 1615 hours 26/12/ On Thursday 26 th November 2015 Lambeth Trading Standards assisted Community Safety, the UK Border Force and local SNT Police in an Operation in the Stockwell area designed to deter street drinking and street drug dealing. The Operation also checked alcohol licence conditions, stock, health & safety, and legal working. Six premises were visited checked and inspected including Seven to Seven 308 Clapham Road, London SW9 9AE. 22. At approximately 13:00 we entered the shop. I identified myself and my colleagues and informed Mrs Nigisti Geberhedhin who was working behind the counter of the visit. She was polite and co-operative. We asked if we could close the shop whilst we carried out checks in private and undisturbed by customers entering and wanting service which was agreed. Mr Abraham GEBREMEDHIN (her husband) arrived shortly afterwards. 23. Currently shown on the alcohol licence as Premises Licence holder and Designated Premises Supervisor responsible for all sales of alcohol from this venue is a Mr Mulugheta Weldai who is apparently the brother in law of Mr Abraham Geberhedhin. Mr Geberhedhin explained that he had applied to transfer the alcohol licence and was waiting for the transfer to be issued by Lambeth Council. However to all intent and purpose he was running the shop at the moment. Mr Mulugheta Weldai was called and also attended the venue shortly afterwards and confirmed he was still DPS and the transfer was in progress. 24. The shop had agreed with Police to voluntarily to stop selling super strength lagers of 9% abv, to tackle the local street drinking and anti social behaviour problems. They claimed that were running down their stock which explained the presence of high strength products in the shop and then will not sell any lagers over 6% abv. Super strength lagers are the drink of choice of most street drinkers. Local street drug dealers often use street drinkers as cover for selling drugs. Street drinkers tend to congregate where they know they can obtain super strength alcohol. 4

5 5 25. Mr Mohammad Nazmul KABIR as referred to earlier was in the rear store room. He appeared yet again to be in breach of his conditions of being in the UK by working. He initially denied he was working at the shop; however Police later examined CCTV which showed him working behind the counter and serving customers earlier that day. Both Mr Kabir and Mrs & Mrs Geberhedhin claimed that he was not working but he was helping out. In the rear store room was a laptop which was displaying a photos slide show, it was showing photos of a family party and included photos of Mrs & Mrs Geberhedhin and Mr Kabir, which would seem to suggest that he is a close family friend. 26. UKBA Officers explained that helping out was working in the eyes of the law, whether or not he was being paid in cash or in kind. It was also pointed out that he had been caught twice before working at the premises. Mr Geberhedhin was issued with a UKBA enforcement fine of 20,000 for employing a person without the right to work in the UK. This can be reduced to 10,000 if paid within a certain number of days. It is enforced through the County Court as a civil debt. 27. Checks of the alcohol and tobacco stock were satisfactory on this occasion. 28. I particularly draw the Sub Committees attention to the following: GUIDANCE ISSUED UNDER SECTION 182 OF THE LICENSING ACT 2003 (October 2012) & There is certain criminal activity that may arise in connection with licensed premises which should be treated particularly seriously. These are the use of the licensed premises, for knowingly employing a person who is unlawfully in the UK or who cannot lawfully be employed as a result of a condition on that person s leave to enter. 29. It is envisaged that licensing authorities, the police and other law enforcement agencies, which are responsible authorities, will use the review procedures effectively to deter such activities and crime. Where reviews arise and the licensing authority determines that the crime prevention objective is being undermined through the premises being used to further crimes, it is expected that revocation of the licence even in the first instance should be seriously considered. 30. In less than six months the premises has been found employing an illegal worker on three occasions, as well as stocking illicit tobacco and alcohol. It is not supporting efforts to combat crime and disorder, and I ask that the alcohol licence be revoked. 5

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