FIFTY packs of illegal cigarettes and 3.5kgs of contraband loose tobacco were seized when police raided a busy town centre pound shop.

Officers from Bolton’s Town Centre Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) raided Pound Bargains in Newport Street at around 2pm yesterday as shoppers looked on.

They found the non-duty-paid tobacco stashed behind a false panel in a downstairs toilet.

It is the second time police, working with officers from HM Customs, have raided the shop after 35 bags of the illegal tobacco were found hidden behind a false ceiling panel during a raid in October last year.

Sgt Paul Ellis, who leads the town centre NPT, said: “We carried out a search at Pound Bargains following a tip-off from the local community. This tobacco, which was brought into the country illegally, will now be destroyed and our colleagues at HM Customs will be conducting further investigations.

“I would like to thank those residents who brought this matter to our attention and reassure the community that we will take action when information about Crime is brought to us.”

He added: “I would urge anybody with concerns about crime in their neighbourhood to get in touch with us as soon as possible.”

Bahaudin Bhay, manager of Pound Bargains, said: “I have made an honest mistake and I hold my hands up to it. It’s something I won’t do again.”

l Anybody with any information about crime in and around the town centre can get in touch with Sgt Ellis on 0161 856 5619.

Alternatively, you can report information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.