A sniffer dog helped police and Trading Standards to uncover thousands of pounds worth of illegal cigarettes and tobacco during raids at shops across East Lancashire.

The premises, in Bacup and Haslingden, as well as some in Preston, were visited last month, where almost 2,000 packs of illegal cigarettes, chewing and hand-rolling tobacco, plus almost 1,000 vapes, were found in purpose built concealments.

Sniffer dog Pippa found the hidden stashes, worth £18,500, during Lancashire County Council's Trading Standards and Lancashire Constabulary's joint raids on seven retailers across Preston and Rossendale.

The team seized almost 2,000 packs of illegal cigarettes, chewing and hand-rolling tobacco, plus almost 1,000 vapes on Tuesday November 21 and Wednesday November 22.

The haul, of more than 40,000 cigarettes and more than 8kg of rolling tobacco were found in a number of clever, purpose-built concealments in shops and storerooms, which saw officers sliding open walls and removing fake screws in hiding places to find hidden stashes.

Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Lancashire County Council said: "Our Trading Standards team joined forces with the police to undertake vital community work. I congratulate them and Pippa, the dog, for their excellent results.

"I encourage anyone to report shops to us that they believe may be behaving in an illegal way.

"Seizing illegal goods makes our local community safer for children, as the sale of these encourages addiction.

"We will not tolerate the exploitation of Lancashire's young people by unscrupulous businesses and will continue to take action against them.

"We thank the public for their support and would welcome further reports of anything suspicious being made to our Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 2231133."

Lancashire County Council said it is unable to provide the names of the shops until after prosecution.