Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 it is an offence for an occupier or person concerned in the management of a premises to knowingly permit the supply of controlled drugs or smoking of drugs on those premises. Permitting drug use or drug dealing on your premises could result in a review of your licence and, potentially, prosecution.
Here are our tips for ensuring your staff are aware and prepared:
- Your staff will be the first line of defence in tackling drug taking and drug dealing in your premises. It is important to have a robust policy on how you will deal with any drugs found and those customers who may be taking or attempting to deal drugs. Although not a legal requirement, it may be a condition of your licence and the presence of a policy demonstrates your commitment to tackling drug-related problems. Once you have finalised your policy, you should ensure staff (including any door staff) are trained to act in accordance with it and that regular refresher training takes place. In particular, staff should be trained on signs to look out for where there is suspected drug use, such as physical signs displayed by customers, torn beer mats or other drug paraphernalia.
- Toilets are the most common place where high readings of drugs are found whenever enforcement visits take place. It is important to ensure your staff make regular checks of toilets, to act both as a deterrent and as a means of detecting drug use by customers. Also, you may consider the removal, as far as possible, of any horizontal surfaces to minimise opportunities available for drug users.
- During busy periods, it can be difficult for staff to monitor all areas of your premises as well as carry out their duties. A good CCTV system acts as a deterrent and can reassure local police that you are able to monitor levels of crime and disorder including any drug use. If you install CCTV you will need to ensure it is compliant with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998.
- Look for local police initiatives. Many forces offer help with signage, drug wipes/swabs and can offer help and advice with crime prevention measures.
- Short of conducting searches of every customer visiting your premises, and given the impracticality of this, it may not be possible to prevent drugs being brought in to your premises by customers altogether, but you can minimise the risk and show a good level of due diligence.