Illicit alcohol

Who To Contact

Knowsley Trading Standards
2nd Floor Yorkon Buliding
Archway Road
L36 9FB

Telephone: 0151 443 4712


There are two types of illicit alcohol:

  • Counterfeit - alcohol made illegally to imitate a genuine brand.
  • Non-duty paid – Legitimate alcohol bought legally in a foreign country, smuggled in to UK in large quantities with no UK Duty Tax paid.

How does it affect me?

Buying counterfeit alcohol can be dangerous and poses a real risk to your health because, in most cases, these goods do not comply with the strict quality standards used by legitimate brand manufacturers.

Counterfeit alcohol may also contain hazardous substances. For example, counterfeit alcohol mostly contains a highly poisonous substance called methanol. Methanol is a none-drinking alcohol substance that is used for industrial purposes only. Methanol can be found in products like anti-freeze and paint remover. If methanol is consumed it can lead to breathing difficulties, liver damage or even death.

How do I identify illicit alcohol?

  • Unfamiliar brand name
  • Price may be significantly lower
  • Unusual taste or smell
  • Low quality labelling and packaging
  • There may be no ‘UK Duty Paid’ stamp.
  • Foreign brand names
  • No manufacturer details

Buy your alcohol from a reputable trader, as they are unlikely to be selling illicit alcohol. Avoid anyone selling alcohol from residential property, vehicles and markets, as this is more likely to be illicit.

Our aim

Working with our partners, we aim to:

  • Disrupt and eliminate criminal organisations which deal in illegal and non-duty paid alcohol products.
  • Raise awareness of the harmful effects of alcohol products on young people, peers and the Knowsley community.
  • Investigate and prosecute any person concerned in the sale or supply of alcohol products to any child.

Information for local businesses

Selling illicit alcohol

The maximum sentence for selling illicit alcohol is ten years in prison. If you are convicted, the courts have the power to seize your assets, including jewellery and the family home.

Age Check

Age Check is a website for retailers to help you make the right decisions when it comes to selling age restricted products, such as alcohol.

It is free to sign up and gain access to relevant information and examples you and your staff may face when trying to prevent underage sales.

To sign up for free, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Click the ‘register’ button at the top right of the Age Check website.
  2. Enter your details on the registration page and select your authority from the drop down menu
  3. Once registered, click ‘Retailer free downloads’ and select ‘Online bundles’. Add the online bundles to your cart.
  4. Under the heading ‘Have an authority promocode?’ enter the promotion code Lancashire2012 and click ‘apply promocode’. This will then turn your order into a free purchase.
  5. At the bottom of the screen, click ‘Create free order’. This will generate the order and put the downloads into your account ready for you and your staff to use.

To view your order and downloaded items, click on ‘Your account’ at the top and then ‘View Order History’ on the left-hand side. This will show the order that you have just created. Clicking on the pencil icon will let you see all the files you can download within the order.

Business Companion

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Information we receive from the community is important because it helps to target enforcement activities effectively.

Any information received about manufacturers, importers, distributors, businesses or individuals dealing in illegal alcohol products will be investigated by Trading Standards. Action will be taken against those found to be breaking the law and this can include prosecutions.

If you do have any information about anyone you suspect is selling illicit alcohol, you can report it anonymously to us on 0151 443 4738 or