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Drug Testing News

Pub customers face random drug testing


 
By Lorna McVicars
12:20 Wednesday 12th February 2003
 
A Borehamwood bar took action against cocaine use on its premises last week, with the help of Hertfordshire police's new drug-testing machine.

At Woods bar, in Shenley Road, last Wednesday evening, 14 police officers tested 148 people and searched the 27 who gave positive readings for recent contact with drugs. One person was arrested and cautioned for possessing cocaine.

Hertfordshire Constabulary set up the portable Itemiser machine inside the entrance to Woods, and customers had to be tested to enter. The 35,000 machine, one of two in the county, was set to test for cocaine, heroin, cannabis, amphetamine and ecstasy, although it can identify 200 different drugs and explosives.

A cloth was wiped across the palm of each customer and put into the Itemiser to measure, within 10 seconds, any contact with drugs. A positive reading is used to indicate someone may have drugs on them.

Woods' manager Hayley Withers said drug-taking was not welcome at the bar, and added: "There has been evidence of people taking drugs here I think it is cocaine. At the end of the day, people have to realise it is not good for them, especially when they are drinking."

Woods agreed, at a recent Pubwatch meeting between licensees and police, to become the first premises in Borehamwood to use the machine, and police plan to use it at other venues in the town.

Sgt Nat Landau, of Hertsmere's community police team, said: "The mixture of alchohol and drugs makes people unpredictable."

Insp Dave Rankin said: "Hertfordshire is not soft on drugs."

He added: "We have now got a machine which we can use in the pubs and is fully portable. We can use it randomly and when we get information that drugs are being dealt or used in any premises we will go down there.

"It is a deterrent. If people are going to pubs, and they are not going to know when or where we are going to be using the machine, they will think twice before going out and having drugs with them or using drugs."