A proactive operation to disrupt the use of recreational drugs in pubs in Saltash and Liskeard was carried out last week.

Policing teams from Saltash, Liskeard, Torpoint, and Looe were joined by Police Dog (PD) Skye, her handler Police Constable (PC) Steve Waters, Police licencing officer Nicola Henderson, and plain clothes officers to carry out Operation PAD (Pubs Against Drugs) in Saltash and Liskeard.

Sergeant Dan Lewis, who was leading the operation, said: “We decided to carry out this operation to take action against drugs to make our pubs safer. We acted upon intelligence gathered from anonymous reports and by liaising directly with owners of pubs in the town. This has helped us gain a real understanding of the extent of the presence of illegal drugs on a typical Friday night in Saltash and other local towns, which helps us better target resources to tackle the issue of drugs head-on.”

As part of the operation, the team visited a total of seven licenced premises, with five being in Saltash and two being in Liskeard. Later in the evening, the team made a second visit to two venues that had been visited earlier in the evening in a bid to maintain vigilance. Plain clothes officers were strategically placed in each pub to identify members of the public who acted suspiciously or actively avoided PD Skye, who were then searched by officers. PD Skye was there to detect the presence of illegal drugs by walking past members of the public and alerting her handler, PC Waters, when she identified the scent.

A total of seven stop searches were carried out as a result of an indication from PD Skye or suspicious behaviour detected by plain clothes officers when PD Skye entered the venue. Out of the seven stop searches, three were positive, which lead to the seizure of suspected drugs and the removal of the person searched. The three individuals who were found to be carrying suspected illegal drugs have been asked to attend a voluntary interview under caution at a later date, after the seized items are tested. This operation also enabled officers to join Police Licencing Officer, Nicola Henderson, to complete drug wipes in all toilets in each premises to detect the presence of drug residue, such as cocaine, and check each premises was conforming to regulations. Out of the 14 toilets tested using drug wipes, eight indicated a positive result, which was fed back to each venue manager. Officers found two people under the age of 18 were drinking alcohol they had brought into a venue, which lead to the two underage individuals being removed, and the alcohol being seized by officers. Following this, the police licencing team will return to the venue to carry out 'Challenge 25' training and support the venue to implement a new policy to prevent people under 18 from entering the establishment after a certain time.  

Sergeant Lewis continued: “We are really pleased that, through carrying out this operation, we have removed suspected drugs from local pubs, provided reassurance to the community and engaged with local people. It is often easy to overlook smaller towns and more rural areas in regards to drug use and supply, and our policing teams remain committed to tackling drugs to minimise the risk of harm to people living and working in our communities.”

“Drug use and supply are linked to a multitude of different crimes such as theft, dangerous driving offences, violence against women and girls, and violent crimes, which all significantly negatively impact the wider community.”

Nicola Henderson, Police licencing officer, said: “It is important that Devon and Cornwall Police continue to work closely with licence holders to prevent and deter drug use and supply within venues. Licenced premises operators in East Cornwall have engaged really positively with Operation PAD to reduce the impact of drug-related crime and disorder within the evening and night-time economy.  We will continue to ask licence holders to collaborate with us, remaining vigilant to the effect of drugs and do all they can to discourage drugs and drug supply in venues.”

Sergeant Lewis commented: “Members of the public were really co-operative with officers and PD Skye, and understood that we were there to promote a safe environment. We plan to carry out similar evenings of action in the future, to further safeguard the community by taking drugs off of our streets, support local pubs with any issues they are facing, and reinforce the message that we do not tolerate the use or supply of illegal drugs.”  

Sergeant Lewis added: “We will continue to work with local businesses, licenced premises, communities, and our partner agencies to tackle drug use and supply. We urge members of the public to share any information with us concerning illegal drugs to support our commitment to making our communities safer.”