High-level criminals target Brighton shops with smuggled and counterfeit wines and spirits

Smuggled alcohol is a growing problem in Brighton and Hove and a sign of criminal activity, according to a councillor.

Labour councillor Jackie O’Quinn raised the issue as members of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Licensing Committee discussed drinks licence reviews and appeals.

At a “virtual” meeting on Thursday (26 November), Councillor O’Quinn, who previously chaired the Licensing Committee, said that there were several licensing reviews coming up, some related to illicit alcohol.

She said: “I am concerned that it seems to be a growing problem in the city.

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“I know trading standards work very hard to deal with this.

“There are quite high-level criminals involved – and it’s large amounts, not small amounts.”

Councillor O’Quinn recently chaired a licensing panel that revoked Tivoli Food and Wine’s alcohol licence after trading standards officers found 90 bottles of fake prosecco on sale.

The shop owner has said that he would appeal against the revocation of his licence.

Councillor O’Quinn said that said she was worried about the amount of illegal alcohol coming into the city and wanted to raise awareness.

Green councillor Lizzie Deane who chairs the Licensing Committee, praised trading standards and licensing officers for monitoring the 1,400 licensed businesses across Brighton and Hove.

She said: “They do work incredibly hard and it is their vigilance and perseverance that brings some of these reviews to our attention.

“They bring to our attention sometimes some quite serious criminal activity that cannot continue to go unchecked.”

Conservative councillor Dee Simson urged more councillors to get involved with licensing applications and reviews in their wards.

She said: “I think more councillors should be active in that. We don’t see as many councillors get involved as should do.”

  1. Nigel Furness Reply

    Dee Simpson is absolutely right, whilst lately the Licensing Panel has been executing some stirling work, if we citizens wish to save this ‘TIP CITY’ from the pit of iniquity into which it is rapidly sliding, we MUST be prepared to lend them a hand by being their ‘eyes and ears.’
    Far too many people love nothing better than to moan and point accusing fingers—an let’s face it—there’s plenty to moan about, but it’s that phrase: “They should do something about it” that sticks in my craw; “WE or YOU should do something about it” is my usual response to this statement!
    Former Labour Home Secretary, Jack Straw, summed it up succinctly when he proclaimed: “We MUST stop this walk-on-by society.”
    I remain convinced that the silent majority of our City are ready to rise-up and TAKE BACK CONTROL and remember the wise old saying: “Things always have to get worse before they get better!
    My thanks, once again, to the Licensing Panel.

  2. Hove Guy Reply

    Who knows what has been added to illegal alcohol? There have been cases in the past, which can be found online, where they have contained methylated spirit, which can lead to blindness or death. Our hospitals have got enough to deal with right now, without having that problem added to it.

  3. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    The former Head of Licensing, the dry-witted Tim Nichols, said that one should never buy newsagent wine.It is too much of a risk.

  4. peter andre Reply

    If only they could control Brighton’s illicit drug quality. I bought a bit of grass off some hippy down the seafront last week for £50 and it turned out to be just that- I did my own analysis and it was oven-dried grass mown down the level on the 24th August. If Brighton Council controlled such matters, I could get stoned regularly, guaranteed.

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