South Holland District Council’s licensing team are launching a crackdown on illegal alcohol sales in in the district with a clear message for those breaking the law – clean up your act or face severe consequences.
As part of a new campaign, officers from the licensing team will be visiting premises selling alcohol in the run up to Christmas.
Working alongside Lincolnshire Police and Trading Standards, the principal aim is to check for smuggled alcohol, which is undercutting legitimate businesses and defrauding the government of funds for vital services.
They will also be checking the compliance of licence conditions and offering guidance to ensure that operators are working in a responsible and legally compliant manner.
However, officers can’t be everywhere at once – so the council is calling on the public to keep a look out for illegal drinks, cigarettes and operations in the district.
It’s easy to spot smuggled alcohol – if drinks are illegal they won’t have a small round excise duty stamp on the bottles, as shown.
Coun Malcolm Chandler, portfolio holder for licensing, said: “Alcohol bottles over 35CL in size and with an alcoholic content of 30 per cent or above must have excise duty paid on each bottle.
“For every smuggled bottle sold the government is defrauded out of £7.26, which should be going towards vital public services such as the NHS.
“Our officers already carry out regular inspections but we’re increasing our profile to protect the public and ensure that businesses can thrive legitimately.
“Most of the traders in South Holland operate within the law, offering our communities a valuable service, but unfortunately a small minority do not.
“For any traders breaking the law we will find you and deal with you. Don’t run the risk of losing your licence and going out of business.”
Smuggled alcohol is brought into the UK by criminal gangs who sell it on at a reduced price, undercutting businesses who pay the legitimate rate.
These products could also contain ingredients that may be harmful. Shop owners who sell it risk having their licences revoked, heavy fines or even worse a stint in jail.
In recent weeks, two Spalding stores caught selling illegal drinks have had their premises licences revoked subject to appeal.
Anyone who spots smuggled alcohol, cigarettes on sale, or inappropriate licensing conditions in South Holland can contact the licensing team on 01775 761161.