Drugs in Pubs: Seven steps to a drug-free pub

Related tags Pub Drug addiction Illegal drug trade

People using or dealing drugs in your pub can spell disaster. As most responsible operators will be aware, if your punters are caught with illegal...

People using or dealing drugs in your pub can spell disaster. As most responsible operators will be aware, if your punters are caught with illegal substances it can damage your trade and reputation. Drug-related activities can even pave the way for other criminal activities such as extortion and violence.

In a worst-case scenario, you could lose your licence and livelihood. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 severe penalties can be imposed on those seen to be permitting drug-related activities on their premises. But you can take some vital steps towards ensuring your pub remains a drugs-free zone.

Here we offer seven top tips, based on advice from the British Beer & Pub Association:

Keep your bar spick and span

Signs of sloppy management such as uncollected glasses, dirty ashtrays left outside and poor service are magnets for drug users and dealers. High standards of cleanliness and service are a barrier to the drugs trade. It shows that you are proud of your pub and won't tolerate any illegal activity. Barstaff well-drilled in the importance of cleanliness, excellent service and vigilance can prove a powerful deterrent to drug taking.

Spot the signs

Certain materials scattered around your premises could be evidence of drug use. Keep an eye out for torn up beermats or cigarette packets, small packets of folded paper, card or foil. Empty sweet wrappings, drink straws and spoons left in toilets can also be tell-tale signs.

Watch out for traces of powder in toilets or obviously wiped clean surfaces. Payment with tightly rolled banknotes or notes with traces of blood and powder is another clue. If you find any syringes on no account touch them with your bare hands, or you risk infection.

Take note of dodgy behaviour

Customers' appearance and behaviour can indicate drug taking. Be alert to excessive sniffing, dilated pupils, red eyes, sudden severe cold symptoms and a white mark around the nostrils. Other giveaways are giggling at nothing, non-stop talking, an unnaturally vacant expression and uncontrollable movements.

Less obvious clues could include an excessive consumption of soft drinks or water.

Look out for dealers

Be wary of a person holding court with a succession of people who only stay with them for a short period of time or someone who makes frequent visits to the toilet.

Furtive behaviour such as huddling or whispering or exchanging packets is also grounds for suspicion. Take care not to judge by appearance as dealers can look highly respectable.

Step up surveillance

Watching your pub closely is key to warding off dealers and users. Monitor what type of clientele your pub is attracting by being sociable and getting to know customers. Become aware of the slang names for different types of drugs and listen for references in conversations.

Frequently collecting glasses and wiping tables can act as a cover for looking out for suspicious activity. Make sure that toilets, gardens and car parks are checked regularly. Staff trained in unobtrusive monitoring and who know how to pass on information discreetly are an added bonus.

Work with police

Try to build up a good relationship with your local police. Never turn a blind eye in the hope that a problem might go away. While you might be able to handle minor incidents, police should be contacted if extensive or hard drug use is suspected. When reporting your concerns, ring your local station and try and speak to your usual police contact.

Make a record of all calls, including the time, the date, the person you spoke to and what about. In a case of an emergency dial 999. Above all, never try to be a hero in a dangerous situation.

Act cool, calm and collected

When dealing with minor offenders stay calm and avoid moral judgements. Give facts, not opinions, by explaining to them politely but firmly that you could lose your licence by allowing drug taking on your premises. Try to let offenders 'back down' without losing face.

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