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The ‘violent and lawless’ part drugs play in mix with drink

October 9, 2013

TRACES of cocaine have been found in EVERY Staffordshire pub tested over the last two years, police admit.

And half of the county’s licensed premises failed underage sales tests, carried out over this summer.

As Staffordshire’s deputy police and crime commissioner I can reveal we are adopting a “robust approach” as the full picture emerges of the problem with class A drugs inside pubs.

“There is little doubt that it [cocaine] plays a part in violence and disorder when mixed with alcohol,” I told members at the British Beer and Pub Association’s key autumn forum in Stafford.

“So just remember that. Every swab we did in the whole of Staffordshire tested positive – every one.”

The police cite “lack of training” as a contributory factor for the shock statistics.

The trade needs to raise the drugs issue with staff and train them to identify and deal with it as soon as possible.

Although many pub employees wear a ‘Challenge 21’ badge, I’m surprised and disappointed to discover that they don’t know what it means.

Training of doorstaff and barstaff and effective control management is absolutely critical.

In addition to finding all the pubs in the county swabbed for cocaine had traces of the substance, 35 out of the 78 premises failed the underage sales test.

I feel the late-night economy is a battleground where the trade and frontline of policing must stand “shoulder to shoulder” but licensed premises are still putting a big demand on police and other services at the weekend, particularly in terms of alcohol-related disorder.

One drunk person can take up the time of 17 police officers and recently I spent 90 minutes while on patrol with two officers ensuring one drunk man got home safely.

But I’m certainly not having a go at the night time economy. We all like a drink and it would be unfair to place the blame for alcohol misuse – with its associated £21billion tab in healthcare, crime and lost productivity – solely at the feet of the pub trade.

The Staffordshire Police Licensing Unit has a vital role to play as peacekeepers with a proactive approach to licensing.

Early intervention is the key to premises managing their pubs/clubs, ensuring drunks are refused and individuals causing problems are ejected before anything untoward happens.

The unit wants nothing more than to see the trade working ever more closely with the local police.

While I’m in favour of a robust approaching to tackling drugs – the licensing unit prefers to use the review system in front of licensing authorities to address issues rather than prosecution except in serious breaches.

Pub bosses hit back at the accusations their establishments are not doing enough to combat drugs.

Paul Chase, director and head of UK compliance at CPL Training, said: “This all gets blamed on the on-trade. It doesn’t get blamed on pocket-money booze in supermarkets.”

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