Pubs praised by cops after passing cocaine tests

TESTS for cocaine have been carried out at Hucknall's town-centre pubs
TESTS for cocaine have been carried out at Hucknall's town-centre pubs

PUBS in Hucknall are playing a key role in attempts to crack down on cocaine abuse — after tests carried out by cops found most town-centre boozers were largely clear of the drug.

Officers carried out swab tests in toilets at eight licensed premises during two days of action.

Flat surfaces in the toilets, including areas around sinks, were tested with special wipes which turn blue if the area has been used to take the class-A drug.

Similar tests in the past have shown widespread cocaine contamination. But most of the results this time were clear.

Only one of the pubs tested by officers showed substantial traces of the drug. This was located outside the town centre and has not been named.

Hucknall’s biggest pub, the Half Moon on High Street, was one of those that was clean.

Sgt Simon Scales, a neighbourhood policing officer based in Hucknall, says the results are “impressive”.

“Last time I did this was four-and-a-half years ago and the result was quite different,” he said. “We are going to do it quite regularly.

“It alerts us as to where the issues are but also lets publicans know if they have a problem.”

Sgt Scales said the results reflect the more responsible behaviour of landlords.

“Pubs have responsibility to reduce crime and disorder, reduce public nuisance and promote public safety, all of which is part and parcel of this,” he said.

“Licensing has become stricter. Failures can result in tough fines. People are aware of the consequences.”

Mike Askin, manager of the Half Moon, said the result was what he expected.

“We have a stringent drugs policy here and do our best to try and stop people taking drugs,” he said.

Mr Askin explained that licensees have been working closely with local police officers to tackle previous problems with drug use in Hucknall and the rest of the country.

“It’s a combination of things,” he said. “Increased vigilance, people’s awareness that they are going to get caught out, increased door staff and the presence of police doing things like this.

“People are more aware that they can’t get away with doing it like they did before.”

Initiatives launched in pubs to tackle drug use have included increased security, better lighting and the removal of surfaces that people could take cocaine from.

Testing customers for traces of different drugs as they enter pubs also spreads the message that drug-taking is not tolerated, with Sgt Scales describing these measures as a way to ‘keep people on their toes’.

“The pubs themselves are managing things, which is what we are looking for,” he said. “Reducing the use of drugs in pubs has a dynamic effect on anti-social behaviour, violence and crime.

“Hucknall is a good news story with the reductions in crime and the pubs are helping towards that with this result.”