Pub raids 'will become a regular tactic', says Swindon police

By Fred A'Court

- Last updated on GMT

Police raid: Pubwatch welcomes police search for drugs in pub premises
Police raid: Pubwatch welcomes police search for drugs in pub premises
RAF dogs have been used to sniff out drugs in raids on licensed premises in Swindon in what Wiltshire police say will become a regular tactic.

The initiative has been welcomed by the trade.

A total of 20 nightspots were visited in the Old Town and New Town areas in addition to specific patrols through public areas and the main thoroughfares between the venues. 

Officers from Swindon's community policing teams targeted illegal drug supply in an operation that was supported by Wiltshire police specialist licensing team and RAF police dog handlers. 

Dogs deployed

Two dogs from RAF Brize Norton specially trained for drug searches were deployed into each of the licensed premises. 

The night time raids saw 14 people targeted via Section 23 Misuse of Drugs Act stop and search powers resulting in one person receiving a fixed penalty notice for possession of cannabis, three given cannabis street warnings and three found to be in possession of cocaine, and subject to ongoing police investigations. 

During the operation last Friday the dogs also indicated that a number of self-seal bags that had been discarded by unknown people in various venues. These items were seized and are suspected to contain cocaine; investigations relating to these finds are also ongoing. 

Pubwatch welcomes police initiative

The premises raided have not been named, but Pubwatch chairman Dave Broome said: “We welcome this initiative from the police and welcome the drugs' dogs into our venues; we look forward to continually working with the police to make our venues as safe for our customers as they can be.” 

PC Paul Bezzant, Swindon town centre community coordinator for Wiltshire police, said: "One of the main aims of this operation was to send out a clear message that people who come to Swindon to enjoy a night out can do so safely. 

“We are committed to working in partnership with licensees and partner agencies to take positive action against drug use within licensed premises.

“Use of passive alert drug dogs... greatly enhances our ability to target and deal with those involved in illegal drug use.“

PC Bezzant added: “We will be making this a regular tactic to drive drugs from our streets and the night-time economy."

Flight Lieutenant Matthew Jones, the officer commanding police and security at RAF Brize Norton, said: "The RAF police, notably from RAF Brize Norton, have a long-standing relationship with Wiltshire police through events such as the Royal International Air Tattoo. 

"Supporting policing operations provides the RAF police specialist military working dog teams perfect training opportunities and the prospect of developing our interoperability with Wiltshire police further, while contributing to the safety of both the civilian and military communities."

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