LGA warns retailers of the consequences of selling fake New Year’s booze

The Local Government Association has warned retailers tempted to sell illegal alcohol on the biggest night of the year that they face confiscation of stock, prosecution and being stripped of any relevant licences.

The warning comes after local council trading standards officers made a series of raids on rogue premises in the run-up to New Year’s Eve.

Cheshire East Council’s trading standards team seized 800 bottles of suspected fake vodka during raids at shops and other premises in Crewe, during a crackdown on illegal sellers.

Officers from Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards seized bottles of fake Glen's vodka from an off-licence in Burton upon Trent.

And Lincolnshire County Council officers helped seize 3,570 litres of beers, wines and spirits – most believed to be counterfeit – from 20 premises as part of an operation with police and HM Revenue & Customs.

New Year’s Eve revellers are being warned that cheap fake booze could contain potentially lethal ingredients found in anti-freeze, cleaning products and paint solvent.

The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, is urging shoppers and retailers to look out for telltale signs that bottles are fake.

These include unfamiliar brand names, crooked labels, spelling mistakes, and very low prices which are “too good to be true”.

Retailers selling illegal alcohol could lose their licence, be fined up to £5,000, be jailed for up to 10 years, get a criminal record, ruin their reputation and seriously harm their customers’ health and be liable for the consequences.

Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s Safer & Stronger Communities Board, said:

“New Year’s Eve is the biggest drinking night of the year but people need to avoid suspiciously cheap, fake alcohol at all costs because it could seriously harm your health, and even kill you.

“Counterfeit alcohol also harms legitimate traders and threatens livelihoods, with the black market trade helping to fund organised criminal gangs.

“Council trading standards teams have been cracking down on businesses selling fake alcohol and rogue sellers should think twice about stocking these dangerous drinks as we will always seek to prosecute irresponsible traders.

“Anyone suspicious about a supplier or who thinks they may have bought an alcoholic drink which may not be legitimate, should contact their local council.”

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