Licensee's views on drug use in pubs

By Robert Mann contact

- Last updated on GMT

Different approach needed: licensee Elaine Hamer believes publicans are fighting a losing battle against drugs
Different approach needed: licensee Elaine Hamer believes publicans are fighting a losing battle against drugs
The use of illicit drugs in pubs is not a new problem and is one that continues to cause headaches for operators and, unfortunately, even the most responsible and well-run licensed premises are not immune from issues surrounding them.

As most operators will be aware, customers using or dealing drugs in a licensed venue can spell disaster and, detrimentally, damage your trade and reputation.

At The Morning Advertiser​’s MA500 event this month (13 February) we spoke to drug’s specialist detective sergeant Ian Broughton​ from the Metropolitan Police’s Central Drugs team who reiterated that operators should embrace testing or face losing their licence.

Waste of time

To delve into the matter and to get another side of the story, we spoke to Elaine Hamer, licensee of the Plough in Great Harwood, Lancashire, who argued that testing is "time consuming" and a "waste of time" because people will continue to do it.

“To ensure we had our culprit, we would need to swab every time someone used the cubicle – it's all quite time-consuming,” Hamer argued.

“So, in practice, are we to become self-appointed drugs police barging into the usual suspect areas and peering over cubicles when we hear the giveaway sniffle, or do we simply wait until they come out to then swab the usual offending areas ready to confront the suspect?"

Enhanced warning

Hamer added that she believes pubs need more warning signs in their venues about the dangers of drugs to, in essence, make those taking think twice.

“Like all licensees, we have to abide by the law and this includes not permitting the use of, or dealing of illegal drugs on the premises," said Hamer.

“Even though we have had suspicions of cocaine taking on our premises, it is very difficult to be sure that they are using.

“I personally feel that there should be literature available to pubs, plus warning signs about the dangers of drugs, as they are the biggest killer of our young people."

Condoning drug culture 

With some pubs and nightclubs across the country offering punters the opportunity to test the purity of their drugs, Hamer said venues who are offering the service should be "ashamed".

“It’s a definite no-no to allow drug dealing to take place in your pub, that goes without question, because its blatant drug taking," she added.

“Beyond that, I can’t see me racing around swabbing the place – especially when my neighbouring town feels it’s OK for clubs to test the quality of the drugs.

“Effectively, venues that are testing drugs that users are buying are, essentially, condoning the drug culture."

Related topics: Licensing law

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