Police operation cracks down on venues flouting licensing laws

Sergeant Fyfe of Barkingside Police with tests surfaces in a pub for traces of drugs

Sergeant Fyfe of Barkingside Police with tests surfaces in a pub for traces of drugs - Credit: Archant

Operation Condor last weekend saw police across Redbridge target some of the borough’s 300 licensed premises over the weekend in a bid to crack down on venues breaking licensing laws.

Pubs and bars were swabbed for evidence of drugs while undercover police cadets visited off-licences, pubs and betting shops to see if they would be challenged for ID.

Sergeant Douglas Fyfe led the operation in Barkingside, visiting a number of pubs and betting shops on the High Street.

Speaking from the Chequers Pub in the High Street, Sgt Fyfe said: “The Operation focuses on tackling licensing issues that underlie much of our crime and anti-social behaviour.

“During the operation we do around 10 drugs mappings a night. We take swabs from the toilets, pool tables and bar area, then feed it into the drug itemiser machine which reads it for traces of drugs. It can tell whether there are just traces of drugs or whether there’s a high concentration which indicates drugs have been used that day.”


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The itemiser machine, owned by the council, can detect, amongst other things, cocaine, heroine, methamphetamine, ketamine and MDMA. It can also be used in airports to detect explosives.

The point of the drugs mappings is to highlight if a particular night spot has a drug problem and to inform the management of things they can do to reduce it.

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Pubs and bars are encouraged to remove flat surfaces from their toilets, remove the bottom of doors so staff can see if there is more than one person in a cubicle, install CCTV where possible and remind cleaning staff to report signs of drug use.

The Chequers Pub was found to have secondary traces of cocaine in the toilets which indicates no drugs had been used that day.

In a bid to protect vulnerable young people, volunteer police cadets were also used to see if off licenses and betting shops are complying with age restriction laws. Young cadets, accompanied by an undercover Trading Standards rep or police officer, attempt to buy alcohol or place a bet. If they’re served, the alcohol will be saved as evidence.

Two police cadets, aged 13 ad 16 were on hand to assist Sgt Fyfe by visiting betting shops on Barkingside High Street. Along with an undercover member of Trading Standards, the boys visited Paddy Power where they were asked to play on the fruit machines then place a bet. Martin Hicky of Trading Standards who accompanied them, said: “There are tight guidelines in how we use the cadets. We can’t use children who appear older than they are and they get briefed on how to behave and if they are challeneged for ID they must give their age, They then have to give a statement describing the person who dealt with them.”

In the case of Paddy Power on 43 High Street, the manager asked the boys for ID and refunded them the £1 they had managed to put into the slot.

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