Council & Police to get tough on cocaine use in bars, pubs & clubs

Thursday, 10 July, 2008

Licensing officers from Kensington and Chelsea Council will be warning bar, pub and club managers that they need to work harder to reduce cocaine use in their premises.

The Council's licensing officers have been testing for cocaine use and out of the first 41 premises they tested, all but two had traces of the drug.

The officers, accompanied by local Safer Neighbourhoods police officers, intend to visit all bars, pubs and clubs in the Royal Borough over the next six months.

Premises that tested positive for cocaine have been offered advice on how to reduce drug use. They will be revisited and retested in the coming weeks. If officers still find traces of cocaine, and the licensee has made no effort to minimise or prevent drug use, then the police may apply to the Licensing Committee to review the premises' licence.

Cllr Nicholas Paget-Brown, Cabinet Member for Environmental Management, said the test results demonstrated that tough action may be needed.

He said: "It is extremely worrying that almost all of the premises we tested had traces of cocaine in their lavatory cubicles. In the vast majority of cases licensees do not want drug takers in their establishment.

"We will support those licensees who are tackling the problem, but those who have made absolutely no effort to reduce cocaine use may find their licence under review.

"Cocaine use is illegal, dangerous and far from glamorous. In fact, the most common place where our officers found traces of the drug was the porcelain rim of the lavatory bowl, which goes to show just how sordid drug use can be."

The testing involves wiping moist tissues across surfaces. These tissues then turn blue when they come into contact with cocaine. The tissues can detect traces that are not visible to the naked eye.

One licensee had made sure that his premise was drug free by gluing small stones and pebbles to all the flat surfaces in the toilet cubicles, such as the cistern and the toilet roll holder. They had also removed the toilet lid and secured the plastic seat to the porcelain rim.

The Council and the police recommend that staff in bars, clubs and pubs make regular visits to the toilets, fix warning signs to the walls, and smear Vaseline on flat surfaces.

Sgt Trevor Lewis, from Kensington and Chelsea Police's licensing section, said: "The type of premises that allows drug use to take place will attract drug dealers. Any premises that test positive a second time and cannot justify their inaction in introducing preventative measures, will be on their way to finding themselves at a licence review hearing."

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