Retailers are urged to be extra vigilant when it comes to accepting £1 coins. According to a survey carried out by the Royal Mint, one in 50 pound coins are forgeries – more than double the amount in 2003 when the last figures were made public.

How to spot a fake £1 coin
The Royal Mint has released the best methods of checking whether £1 coins handed over to you are real or fake:

- Check that the date and design match up. The Royal Mint website has a list showing the year that each design was introduced.
- Check that the edge inscription and date match. Also check it is clear and in the right lettering – forgeries often have writing that is uneven.
- Check the Queen’s head is the right depth. On some forgeries it protrudes either too much or not enough.
- The Queen’s head should line up with the design on the reverse side. Hold the coin between two fingers with the design straight and spin it round – if the Queen’s head is off-centre it is likely to be a fake.
The studies are carried out twice a year by the Royal Mint, which inspects a random sample of coins. It believes there are currently 1.5 billion £1 coins in circulation and 30 million of these are counterfeit.

A spokesman for the Mint added that anyone who found they had a fake coin should hand it to the police. “It is a criminal offence to make or use counterfeit coins. Any member of the public who suspects they have a counterfeit coin should not attempt to spend it.”

Susie Hawkins of the Simon Smith Group in Northleach, Gloucestershire, warns her staff to be extra vigilant when it comes to potential counterfeits. “My staff are careful with all money that comes into the store. Some forgeries are easier to spot than others, depending on the quality. The weight of the coin is crucial.”

Susie’s policy is for her staff to turn away anything that they suspect is counterfeit, but more importantly not to put themselves in danger. “We don’t accept coins that we’re not sure about, but I urge them not to get into an argument with the individual as their personal safety is my greatest concern.”

Susie also weighs bagged change before banking it. She says this also limits the chances of passing on counterfeit coins.