Scottish Daily Mail
Anger over random drug tests in queue for city nightclubs
P OLICE are using hi-tech swab kits to check i f clubbers have been taking drugs. Customers queueing at clubs i n Aberdeen have been approached by officers without warning and had their hands checked for traces of illegal substances.
Those who do not co-operate risk being refused entry – while others who test positive are questioned and could be searched and arrested.
But politicians and licensed trade bosses have criticised the tactic as a breach of young people’s rights.
Police Scotland has also been at the centre of a recent storm over young people being stopped and searched.
Scottish Lib Dem l eader Willie Rennie said: ‘ Carrying out such tests without a suspicion of a crime is a heavyhanded and indiscriminate tactic. Police Scotland need to review this tactic and explain how t hi s hel ps a ddress drug-taking.’
Officers recently turned up at Club Tropicana in Aberdeen with a drug-detection machine called an ‘itemiser’ and a sniffer dog. They tested 100 people and a CCTV van monitored the club’s entrance. But officers failed to register any positive results for illegal drugs, including cannabis, cocaine, Ecstasy and heroin.
Club boss Tony Cochrane said: ‘I support an anti- drug policy but I feel this latest action by Police Scotland is a step too far. Officers stood at the entrance and took sample swabs on customers with an expectation we should refuse admission to non-compliants.
‘We appreciate the work the police do but they’re achieving nothing with this policy. People going for a night out are being made to feel like potential criminals.’
Graeme Pearson, Scottish Labour justice spokesman and ex-head of the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency, added: ‘Where police spring tests upon people and there’s a pressure to co-operate, it adds concern about the giving of consent and whether operations like this are appropriate.’
The £ 25,000 drug- testing device is designed to indicate whether a person has picked up il l egal s ubstances or handled a significant quantity.
Four men were charged with drug offences after the machine was used in Aberdeen’s Union Street in May.
Highland and Islands independent MSP John Finnie, convener of the Holyrood’s cross-party group on human rights, said: ‘It would be interesting to understand the legal basis for these approaches.
‘It’s important that citizens co-operate with police but I’m struggling to understand what can be achieved by t his approach.’
Inspector Lorna Ferguson of Police Scotland said: ‘ The itemiser is a visible deterrent to those seeking to enter pubs and clubs in possession of drugs.’