Officers warned that businesses could face a £20,000 fine if they are caught. Owners could also face up to six months in prison. Inspector Paul Prenter, head of the force’s licensing department, said police wanted to continue to have a “positive relationship” with businesses.But he added: “Providing alcohol to customers without a licence is a breach of section 136 of the Licensing Act and is a criminal offence. “Please ensure your business is not giving alcohol to customers, otherwise our licensing officers will be in touch and it could result in a hefty fine for your business. “Alternatively if you do wish to continue the practice, please contact your local council.” Martyn Brindley, Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s strategic manager for public protection, urged owners who were unsure of their business’ status to call an advice line. “It is very important that all businesses are aware of the laws regarding serving alcohol on their premises and that they abide by them,” he added. The advice was met with some ridicule on social media. One user wrote on Facebook: “At the end of the day more important things are or should have priority in these troubled times.”Another said: “With everything going on in the UK right now… this is what you resort to concentrating on?”It comes after a barber shop in Dorset was urged by a council last year to stop handing out free beers to customers. The owners of the Blind Barber in Poole were told to stop handing out “stubby” beers along with the “odd bowl of nuts” by the Borough of Poole Council. Providing alcohol to customers without a licence is a breach of the Licensing ActInspector Paul Prenter Hairdressers and beauty salons have been warned by police that offering complimentary glasses of bubbly to their customers could cost them up to £20,000. Staffordshire Police issued the warning to businesses amid concern some are offering free drinks of wine or champagne as part of treatment packages without a proper licence. While the force admitted that the offers are “well intentioned”, it insisted the offers were still illegal if the business does not have a licence. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.