Page last updated at 23:54 GMT, Friday, 31 October 2008

Pub-goers to be tested for drugs

Itemiser machine
Swabs will be fed in to the 'Itemiser' device to test for drugs

Pub-goers in Aberdeen are facing a drugs test before entering bars as part of a crackdown by Grampian Police.

Officers in the force will be the first in Scotland to use an Itemiser - a device which can detect traces of drugs from hand swabs in a matter of seconds.

The test is voluntary, but customers will be refused entry if they do not take part. They could be searched and even arrested if traces are found.

The device was trialled by the police force in the area earlier this year.

The Itemiser allows police officers or door staff to swab customers hands as they enter a pub or club. It can tell almost instantly if drugs are present - including cocaine, cannabis, heroin and ecstasy.

The device can show three possible results: green, amber or red.

We hope that over time the model can be developed and used by community partnerships in other towns and cities across Scotland
Det Supt Willie MacColl
Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency
Customers who get a green reading are allowed entry to the pub, those who get amber are given a drug information pack and those who get red could be searched by police.

If drugs are found on that person they could be arrested and a report could be sent to the procurator fiscal.

Police said the device deters unwanted drug dealers.

Det Supt Willie MacColl, national drugs co-ordinator for the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA), said: "This project offers an opportunity for collaborative working to implement an alternative intervention that will help change attitudes and reduce demand for controlled drugs.

"We hope that over time the model can be developed and used by community partnerships in other towns and cities across Scotland to reduce the harm caused by drugs."

Ch Insp Innes Walker, of Grampian Police, said that as a result of the trial period in October "people had a greater confidence that they could enjoy a night out without fear of encountering drugs".

The Itemiser is already being used in pubs in England where concerns have been raised about the possibility of customers getting a positive reading simply by touching a surface where there are traces of drugs.

But a spokeswoman for the SCDEA said the device was able to tell the difference between this type of contamination and drug use.

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