AN investigation aimed at cracking down on illegal spirits over the festive period was carried out by Northumberland County Council’s Housing and Public Protection Service.

Visits to 57 shops and pubs across Northumberland found that six shops were selling illegal alcohol, resulting in the recovery of 12 bottles of vodka, eight bottles of whisky and ten bottles of wine.

The council said illicit alcohol was often sold shop to shop by itinerant traders out of the back of a van and did not come from reputable wholesalers.

Any businesses who had bought goods from unregulated businesses were being encouraged to speak to Trading Standards.

Coun. John Riddle, the council’s cabinet member for planning, housing and resilience said: “Our Trading Standards team does what it can to ensure that only safe products are sold in the county.

“It is clear that some businesses are happy to take a chance and buy goods from these unregulated sources which is fraught with danger as there is no guarantee that the products are safe.”

Philip Soderquest, head of housing and public protection at the council, added: “Christmas and New Year is a busy time for the sale of alcohol.

“There have been instances where people consuming illicit alcohol have been injured as the alcohol has been found to contain high concentrations of methanol and other industrial products.”

Anyone with concerns about alcohol they have bought can contact Trading Standards on (01670) 623870 or email