Page last updated at 14:03 GMT, Thursday, 2 April 2009 15:03 UK

Drugs glow green under torch beam

'Cocaine torch'
The UV torch that is being used to detect drugs in nightclubs

An ultraviolet torch which shows certain drugs as glowing green is being used to catch cocaine-using clubbers.

Developed by JNE Marketing in Wrexham, the torch shines up traces of cocaine and amphetamine as bright green.

The 'cocaine torch', used by police, highlights traces of the substances on the nostrils and cheeks of users.

Sales and marketing manager Nick Hughes, 36, said: "Drug detection never crossed my mind until I stumbled upon other uses of UV light online."

The firm claims the torch is being used by police forces across the UK.

JNE Marketing, which has been supplying crime prevention products since 1990, was originally marketing a torch that could identify counterfeit currencies and identity cards.

"We're always looking for new products to tackle crimes, so it's only when conducting some general research that it struck me the torch could have a forensic use," said Mr Hughes, whose background is in business studies and marketing.

Nick Hughes
Nick Hughes said the torch makes traces of drugs glow green

He approached a former client, a drugs liaison officer in Kent, to conduct some tests, and discovered the torch could also identify certain drugs, including cocaine, some ecstasy tablets and amphetamines.

The torch was piloted last weekend by police in Blackburn, Lancashire, where four men were stopped from entering a nightclub in the town centre.

Pc Andy Duxbury, from Blackburn police station, said: "We shone the torch onto people as they entered pubs and clubs.

"It showed up, as bright green, traces of cocaine left in people's nostrils or cheeks that'd normally be invisible to the naked eye."

He added: "It sends the right message and helps us to tackle illegal drug-use and its associated problems of violent crime."

He has just ordered a new batch of torches for the station and local pubs.

Mr Hughes said 20 police forces across the country have ordered, or expressed an interest in, the torches, and pub and nightclub owners have also ordered batches online.

But he never expected the torch would be used to spot-check clubbers.

"I'd only thought of the torch being used to expose surfaces where drugs had been, I didn't think of the benefits of it showing up drug-use on individuals," he said.

JNE Marketing has sold over 100 torches so far, and received interest from suppliers in the UK as well as from Africa, Canada and Buenos Aires.

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