Off-licence owners have been warned about the dangers of selling counterfeit alcohol and cigarettes after a rise in cases across the region.
Derbyshire County Council’s trading standards officers have written to all 2,500 licensed premises in the county warning that they face prosecution if they are found to be selling illegal products.
And the county council is also warning consumers of the serious health risks of buying cut price products which are likely to be illegally produced and not subject to production regulations.
Councillor Kevin Parkinson, Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “We’ve seen a marked increase in the amount of counterfeit products on sale across the county – including vodka, wine and cigarettes.
“They are often produced by criminal gangs with no regard for health regulations and can pose a serious risk.”
Councillor Parkinson added: “Consumers need to be aware. If spirits are being sold at unusually low prices, at retail outlets or places such as boot fairs, out of the back of vehicles or in car parks, they are likely to be counterfeit and can be dangerous.
“Cut priced sales of counterfeit goods have significant implications for the business interests of honest traders and we will always work to protect them.
“Illegally produced alcohol and cigarettes will be seized and we will seek the strongest possible punishment. We continue to work with police and customs officers and will be making further investigative visits during the next few weeks.”
In October last year county council trading standards officers took part in Operation Flintstone – joining police officers and spirit industry specialists to inspect 25 premises selling alcohol.
Suspect alcohol was seized from three premises. Investigations into two of the seizures are on-going. The third resulted in Fawad Karim, owner of West Bars Convenience Store in Chesterfield, losing his licence after stocking vodka which wasn’t produced at a legitimate distillery and being found to be in possession of 7,000 cigarettes which did not have UK duty paid.