As partygoers prepared for the busiest night of the year on New Year’s Eve, the LGA issued safety advice warning people to avoid cheap and dangerous counterfeit alcohol being sold by rogue retailers.
Alcohol fraud is reported to cost the UK around £1 billion a year. Illegal alcohol is not only a serious danger to health, but it also harms legitimate retailers and threatens livelihoods, with the counterfeit market funding organised criminal gangs.
Some counterfeit bottles of vodka are said to contain industrial-strength levels of alcohol, which can lead to vomiting, permanent blindness, kidney or liver problems, and – in extreme cases – death.
The LGA urged shoppers to look out for tell-tale signs that bottles are fake. These include unfamiliar brand names, crooked labels, spelling mistakes on the labels, and very low prices that are ‘too good to be true’.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “It’s appalling that rogue traders selling illegal alcohol are willing to play roulette with the health and wellbeing of their customers by prioritising quick profits above safety.
“Councils target businesses selling fake alcohol all year round, but generally step up operations in the run-up to the festive period, when rogue sellers often seek to exploit demand.
“We will always seek to prosecute irresponsible traders, and encourage the public to report any suspicious business activities.”