Licence threat over sales of fake booze in Sheffield

NEWS: News.
NEWS: News.
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A fresh warning has been issued to businesses as Sheffield Council attempts to rid the city of dangerous fake booze.

The council’s licensing committee used the Spar in Richmond Road, Richmond, Sheffield, as an example of what will happen to stores caught selling illicit or illegal alcohol – after members voted to revoke its alcohol premises licence.

Retailers authorised to sell alcohol will be sent a letter from Trading Standards this week, telling them to ensure all products are genuine – or face the consequences.

It is the latest step in an operation in which more than 2,000 bottles – many of which contain potentially harmful ingredients such as anti-freeze and nail polish remover – have been seized from shops across the city in the past five months.

Coun Jack Scott, council cabinet member for environment, said: “We know a minority of retailers across the city are selling the stuff, and it is causing damage to the reputation of our retail sector.

“This illegal trade must be eradicated from the streets of Sheffield.

“We saw a few weeks ago at licensing committee how one shop suffered the consequences of selling this illegal stuff.

“Let’s hope other retailers take note and help stamp out this dangerous trade.”

Illicit or illegal alcohol is either fake booze produced in counterfeit bottles and labelled as a genuine product, or is genuine branded alcohol that has been stolen in bulk and sold on – avoiding paying any tax or duty.

Retailers will receive an information leaflet letting them know how to spot this dodgy booze and warning them of the dangers of selling it.

The penalties for retailers who are caught include a fine of up to £5,000, a criminal record and the permanent loss of their alcohol licence.

Drinking the industrial alcohol has been found to cause severe illness, vomiting, nausea, coma and in some cases blindness. Experts also say that, because it is not produced to industry standards in many cases, drinkers have no idea of the strength of the alcohol they are consuming.

Ian Ashmore, council head of environmental regulation, said: “We know what this counterfeit booze looks like and there is no hiding from the law.

“We have sent retailers detailed information so they know what to look for, and we are here to help them.”