Alcohol taskforce targets illegal sales
Almost 5,700 litres of beer, wine and spirits have been seized by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as alcohol taskforce officers targeted illegal sales across Scotland last Thursday (9 May). HMRC officers visited 49 retail sites across Edinburgh, checking the details of alcohol on sale.
The operation, supported by staff from Edinburgh Council Trading Standards and Environmental Health and Police Scotland, is targeting the alcohol supply chain, including producers, storage facilities, wholesalers and retailers.
Chris Brett, HMRC’s Alcohol Taskforce manager in Scotland, said: “Anyone handling or selling smuggled alcohol should be aware that HMRC teams are active across Scotland. We are committed to stopping this criminal activity which costs the taxpayer around £1.2 billion in unpaid revenue each year.
“The Edinburgh operation is not a one-off exercise and is part of ongoing work with our partner agencies to combat this crime. We are also keen to work closely with and support local businesses that have to compete against these illegal sales. If you are aware of someone who is evading their taxes you can call HMRC’s Tax Evasion Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Community Safety Leader, Councillor Cammy Day, said: “The illegal trade of products like alcohol can be used to fund crime and can have a highly detrimental effect on the city’s honest retailers and on people’s health. I am very pleased that this initiative has been so successful and I think the amount of products seized demonstrates the need to be vigilant. We will continue to work closely with the HMRC to ensure that consumers and legitimate traders are protected from the impact of this illegal activity.”
Taskforces are specialist teams that undertake intensive bursts of activity in specific high risk trade sectors and locations in the UK. The teams visit traders to examine their records and carry out other investigations. The alcohol taskforce in Scotland is expected to bring in around £4 million. HMRC and the other agencies involved will now consider further action against offenders, including full tax and VAT investigations and a review of alcohol and other trading licenses.