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Guilty Until Proven Innocent Pub Drug Test ::

Reported by Olly @ Trackitdown on October 5, 2007

Cops in Oxfordshire forced drinkers attempting to enter the Litten Tree pub in Bicester to undergo drug tests before being allowed in last week, using their recently purchased drugs itemiser machine.

The machine measures minute traces of narcotics from swaps swept across suspects’ hands and was used on every single drinker entering the pub, The Oxford Mail reported.

Machine operator Det Sgt Steve Duffy, of Banbury CID, was ecstatic, and claimed the public had been equally excited.

"It went very well,” he told the Mail, “The public were very supportive. Many people were saying they wanted to be tested.”

The same officer carried out a similar raid on drinkers in Oxford clubs two weeks earlier, swabbing reveller’s hands as well as mobile phones, purses and wallets, and was similarly impressed by the apparently desperate to be tested drinkers.

"We had a universally positive response from the people we tested in Banbury, and this from customers who were predominantly in the 18-25 age group,” Sgt Duffy told the Mail on September 4, "They were pleased to know they were going out for the night in a drug-free environment."

The Itemiser device first surfaced in the UK in 2003 when Staffordshire Police tested 190 people entering a local nightclub. Civil liberties organisation UKCIA,org said at the time ‘this test is apparently "voluntary", however the police have said "If someone refuses, then it is a tick in the first box of suspicion", a strategy they described as ‘menacing’.

"This is an extremely questionable use of police powers,” a Liberty spokesperson told UKCIA.

“The police cannot force someone who is not under arrest to take a drug test but they are implying they can. To then use a perfectly legitimate refusal to comply as part of the justification for suspicion is an abuse of policing powers,” he said.  (‘If you are queuing for entry to a club and it becomes apparent that the police are conducting hand swabs:  Don’t panic – you might turn up a positive result and you might not – the likelihood is that whether you have actually handled drugs or not will have little bearing on the outcome. Remember also that the use of dummy machines is rumoured – at £40,000 each, police forces are limited in the number of genuine machines they can afford . . .')


Jonty Skrufff (