POLICE have launched a war on drugs after a staggering 28 pubs in Burton tested positive for traces of cocaine.
Officers will work with landlords in an attempt to rid the town of its cocaine problem after an operation targeting use of the class A drug found it was being used at all but three of pubs which were tested.
But police were eager to point out that pubs were not being held responsible for the amount of drugs currently being used inside establishments.
Staffordshire Police’s licensing manager Jed White said licensees were ready to work with officers.
He said: “Pubs are taking it very seriously. We are certainly not blaming them but we expect them to try and tackle it. We know that alcohol and drugs are a mix that can lead to violence.
“All pubs we have spoken to are very, very keen to do something positive about it.
“And the minority that don’t communicate, we have the power to take them to licensing reviews.”
Mr White said the figures were a ‘shock’ but that the force had been aware of the presence of the drug in the town’s pubs for some time.
He said: “I think people are taken aback by how widespread it is, but we have known about it for a long time. Now we have the hard facts to back it up.”
Mr White said that the battle against cocaine extended far beyond the town’s pubs and admitted that it is something that can never be totally eradicated.
He continued: “Cocaine is used socially. It would probably found in most communal toilets, in libraries and other public places.
“It is difficult pubs, cocaine can be secreted down underwear.
“You are never going to have a situation where there are no drugs in any licenced premises but we can make venues aware of what they can do to minimise it, like swabbing on doors, and offer support in terms of guidance to make it as difficult as possible to take drugs into pubs.”
Members of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) reacted angrily to recent suggestions from Staffordshire’s deputy police and crime commissioner Sue Arnold that licensees were not doing enough to combat the use of drugs on their premises.
But Mr White insisted that the vast majority of pubs had been forthcoming and were as eager to resolve the situation as the police.
He said: “We understand it is difficult for pubs but we’re happy to talk to them and offer them our expertise.
“We have retested pubs and found that cocaine use has gone down, so pubs are responding well.”