It is a sad reality that Drugs are increasingly both consumed and traded in licensed premises.
A licensee recently lost his licence following a drugs raid, where a number of customers were arrested for possession of cocaine. He was eventually allowed to keep his licence but had to install CCTV, remove all horizontal surfaces from the toilets and work with the police to put in place a solid drug policy.
When we run our Drugs Awareness Courses, it is quite apparent that younger licensees are pretty much up with drug trends and behaviours, but more mature licencees are often amazed at just what is going on.
Drugs have long been associated with music and clubs. Regrettably, they are also being used and dealt in pubs. It is important that licensees and their staff are aware of the potential problem with drugs and the resulting damage to the reputation of the premises and, crucially, the licence if a drug problem is not tackled. The case above emphasises the importance if you ignore what might be going on in your premises.
[pullquote align=”left or right”]“Come and attend our ‘Award in Drug Awareness’ Course and exam, which gives you everything you’ll need to know – and shows good ‘due diligence’ on your part”[/pullquote]
“Turning a Blind Eye” is in-effect “Allowing”
Ignore it and it could lead to a criminal conviction and loss of your Premises Licence, along with you losing your money!! Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 if the manager of a premises knowingly permits or suffers the production or supply of drugs or the smoking of cannabis on his premises then he is liable to criminal prosecution. The maximum penalty depends on the class of drug involved, e.g. permitting the supply of cocaine on your premises could result in up to 14 years in prison and/or a fine, and ketamine up to 5 years and/or a fine. If customers are found using drugs it will put at risk your licence.
Do you know the signs?
Police officers understand what a difficult issue drugs are for publicans and club owners, and will work with them to prevent drug use in pubs. You will be in a better position to defend yourself and your licence if you can show that you are taking the initiative and trying to tackle the problem. The police will take a very dim view of any premises that “turn a blind eye”.
To ensure that you are as safe as possible you should:
Work with the Police
Most police forces are taking action to tackle drugs in pubs and are running workshops and seminars to assist. In some instances the police will swab areas in local pubs and produce a report for the licence holder showing where drugs have been used on the premises. They will also teach licence holders how to swab and monitor results. Contact your local police to find out more.
Use Door Supervisors
Where finances permit, and if it is a condition of your licence, a good and well-trusted team of door supervisors is crucial in preventing drug dealing on your premises. In order for searches to be carried out on entry to the premises this fact should be clearly advertised. Searches can only be carried out with an individual’s consent, although entry can be denied to those who refuse to consent.
Patrol Your Premises
The most effective way of making your premises unattractive to drug dealers and users is to regularly clear glasses, wipe surfaces and to generally be very visible as management. This shows that you are committed to high service standards – and are unlikely to tolerate illegal activity.
In extreme cases CCTV can provide a highly effective deterrent by recording everyone entering your premises. It can be used to cover secluded areas which may be used by drug dealers. If you use CCTV you must comply with the Data Protection and SIA licensing conditions.
The most usual place for trading and taking drugs. It is important that toilets are supervised if drug taking or dealing has been taking place there. This will discourage crowds from congregating in the toilet area and remove this as the obvious area to deal drugs.
Have A Drug Policy in Place
It is not a legal requirement to have a drugs policy. However, as an operator, if you do it will demonstrate that you are committed to tackling drugs in your premises and to operating within the Law. When drafting the policy you will be forced to consider issues relevant to your premises and how you and your staff can address these. Staff should be trained in how to implement the policy, such as how to be vigilant in spotting the signs of drug taking or dealing. The Policy should include a procedure for logging all suspicions of drug dealing or taking and a procedure for the secure keeping of any drugs found and their handover to police. Any search policy will need to be advertised to customers. It is important to discuss your drugs policy with your local Police and to include in the document when the Police should and expect to be called.
Train Your Staff
Staff will need to trained to look for the signs of drug use, such as white powder on flat surfaces and torn-up beer mats. Our course covers every aspect of the signs and the paraphernalia used. We provide all advice and have you leave the course with a solid written Drug Policy to put in place.
If you are proactive in the fight against drugs in your pub you should be able to discourage users and dealers from using your premises. If a problem does arise, you will be in the best position to spot and tackle it. If you have established a good relationship with your local police they will be much better friends than enemies.