Illegal alcohol warning to Eastbourne’s New Year’s Eve drinkers

A government authority has warned Eastbourne’s New Year’s Eve drinkers about the dangers of illegal alcohol sold by rogue retailers playing ‘roulette’ with their customers’ health.

Tuesday, 31st December 2019, 10:23 am
Updated Tuesday, 31st December 2019, 11:46 am
An LGA spokesperson said some counterfeit bottles of vodka may contain industrial strength levels of alcohol which can lead to vomiting, permanent blindness, kidney or liver problems, and in extreme cases, death.

The safety advice from the Local Government Association, which represents councils across England and Wales, comes after recent raids on premises which has seen fake alcohol seizures and potential prosecutions.

An LGA spokesperson said some counterfeit bottles of vodka may contain industrial strength levels of alcohol which can lead to vomiting, permanent blindness, kidney or liver problems, and in extreme cases, death.

People being served vodka in pubs and clubs should also be aware that fake vodka will often smell of nail varnish, according to the LGA.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, chairperson 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.

“We want people to enjoy their New Year’s Eve celebrations, but anyone buying alcohol needs to look out for signs it could be fake because it could leave them seriously ill and, in extreme cases, cost them their life.”

The LGA is urging shoppers to look out for tell-tale signs that bottles are fake. These include unfamiliar brand names, crooked labels, spelling mistakes, very low prices which are “too good to be true”, different fill levels in bottles of the same brand and sediment in the liquid which should not be present.

Cllr Blackburn said, “People are advised to only buy alcohol from reputable outlets and be wary of any items being sold at suspiciously cheap prices, as they could be counterfeit.

“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.”

Alcohol fraud is reported to cost the UK around £1 billion a year, according to the LGA. Because fraudsters don’t pay tax, they can undercut legitimate companies.

“Anyone selling illegal alcohol should think twice about stocking these dangerous drinks as we will always seek to prosecute irresponsible traders and encourage the public to report any suspicious business activities.

“Counterfeit alcohol is not only a serious danger to health, it harms legitimate traders and threatens livelihoods, with the counterfeit market funding organised criminal gangs,” said Cllr Blackburn.

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

Anyone who thinks they have consumed fake alcohol should seek medical advice. The incident should also be reported to the local environmental health officer, by calling Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06, or the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.