Government drugs guide is 'contradictory', says Drugscope

Related tags Home office Illegal drug trade Government

The Government has come under heavy fire for giving licensees contradictory information on drugs.The attack comes after the Home Office issued a new...

The Government has come under heavy fire for giving licensees contradictory information on drugs.

The attack comes after the Home Office issued a new guide to help pub and club operators make their venues safer for revellers taking illegal substances - based on the premise that drug use is, in some cases, inevitable.

But at the same time it reinforced the message that licensees who knowingly allow drug use on their premises could face up to five years in jail.

Now charity Drugscope has criticised ministers for giving a "contradictory message" to pub and club owners that could lead to confusion and misunderstanding. Some even fear that complying with the new guide could be seen as tantamount to admitting drug use on their premises.

Drugscope has urged the Government to clarify its position on the subject immediately.

A spokesman told "On the one hand the Government is saying drug-taking is inevitable but on the other hand it is saying owners of pubs and clubs are liable for prosecution.

"We are worried that this is a huge contradiction."

Dave Wickett, licensee of the Fat Cat in Sheffield, agreed. He said the law surrounding drug use on licensed premises was confusing.

"We do everything we can to prevent drug use in our pubs," Mr Wickett said. "My barstaff have been on training courses and we know what signs to look out for. But you can't follow someone into the toilet. What I want to know is can I be prosecuted if someone is found to be taking illegal substances in any of my three pubs.

"The Government needs to clarify this," he added.

At the launch of the guide, drugs minister Bob Ainsworth said that licensees should keep drugs out of their premises but must also realise that no matter what they do, people will still use drugs.

"If we cannot stop people from taking drugs we must be prepared to take steps to reduce the harm that they may cause themselves," Mr Ainsworth said.

The launch follows a number of high profile cases highlighting deaths from drugs. The most recent of these involved 19-year-old Lorna Spinks who died after taking two ecstasy pills before visiting a nightclub in May last year.

Figures suggest around four million people use illicit drugs in the UK each year.


To reduce the likelihood of drug-related deaths the Government guide recommends licensees should:

  • provide adequate supplies of drinking water
  • prevent overcrowding
  • ensure proper air conditioning and ventilation
  • take steps to prevent overheating
  • ensure venues comply with health and safety legislation
  • hire police-approved staff
  • regularly patrol all areas of the venue.

Related topics Legislation

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