PEOPLE are being urged to be ‘on their guard’ against the harmful impact of illegal alcohol.
Derbyshire County Council trading standards department and Derbyshire Police issued the plea following a spike in the number of premises being found selling dodgy booze
Regular checks are made on shops in the area in a bid to remove illegal alcohol from the shelves.
A spokesman for trading standards said: “Illicit alcohol such as non-duty paid, counterfeit and bogus-branded alcohol usually wines and spirits remains a threat to responsible retailers and consumers.
“Illicit alcohol - particularly vodka - is still a problem.
“Counterfeit or bogus spirits often contain high levels of industrial alcohol, such as methanol, which can be harmful to health.
“Offering to supply unsafe food is a serious offence under food regulations with fines of up to £20,000 and/or six months imprisonment.
“Food regulations also require that retailers can identify the supplier of any food they purchase - so they should only buy from established traders and insist on detailed invoices/receipts.
“Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to £5,000.
“The Licensing Act 2003 makes specific reference to spirits on which UK excise duty has not been paid.
“Stocking such spirits constitutes a relevant offence.
“In addition to a fine and a criminal record, any personal licence holders successfully prosecuted could see their licence suspended for up to six months or revoked.”
Shop owners caught with illicit alcohol on their shelves will not only lose the stock, but could lose their licences too.
Alcohol duty fraud costs the Government £1.2 billion in lost revenue every year.
HM Revenue and Customs said it seized more than 12 million litres of duty unpaid alcohol in 2012-13, three times as much as the previous year.
In January, the Government set up a joint industry alcohol anti-fraud taskforce to tackle the issue and help retailers ensure they stay within the law.
Anyone who thinks they may have found illegal alcohol on sale is urged to call trading standards on 01629 536166.