Operation Pilot

Contact name: 
Howard Chandler
Force Drug Liaison Sergeant
Kent Police.
07813 079090
Kent Police HQ Maidstone, Kent ME15 9BZ, UK



Kent Police are considered the national lead in community street level drugs disruption, making the night-time economy in our towns and cities safe and manageable. Subject to several TV documentaries, Kent provide other forces with the best practice protocols in policing drug issues within pubs and clubs. A large investment with state of the art technology in drug trace detection machines (to test hands and surfaces for drug indications) has forged a valuable relationship between police and licensees. Combined with passive drug dog use this is continuing to make a sustained impact in deterring drug misuse. Working together with this trace technology, licensees are able to map patterns of drug use within their premises to determine with police a course of action to address identified problems. This then justifies police deployments (with a multi-agency partnership option) using drug detection testing of customers as a condition of entry initiative. Coupled with passive drug dog presence this sends a powerful message that drugs will not be tolerated in our night-time establishments. The one to one dialogue of police and partner agencies with customers entering premises allows information, literature and advice on drug facts to be imparted. Early intervention from this interaction has a bi product of reducing later violence and anti social related crimes.


Objectives include:

  • Reduce night time drug related town centre crime and associated violence;
  • Educate those visiting pubs and clubs about the facts and dangers of drug use;
  • Deter and arrest drug dealers
  • Identify and engage drug users with treatment opportunities.

Characteristics include:

  • Demonstration of how drug patterns are profiled in licensed premises;
  • What licensees can do to police their own pubs and clubs.
  • The concept of condition of entry requirements.
  • The combined use of trace detection and passive dogs as an enforcement tactic.
  • The multi-agency partnership approach to the night-time economy.
  • Making the links to treatment for the social drug scene.
  • How recreational misuse is further supported by awareness training in schools and the workplace.

The operation was associated with a reduction in crime, such as night time drug and related violence. There was also reduced drug use within premises (drug trace profiling and intelligence).


The operation can best be described as an enforcement led partnership project that deters drug use and dealing to make night time town centre venues more manageable and safe from drugs. It places a heavy emphasis on one-to-one dialogue with all persons entering pubs and clubs to provide drug awareness and education and helping addicted users.

Intervention details

Type of intervention
Selective prevention
Problem addressed
Illegal drugs, Alcohol, Drug dealing, Violence, Aggression, Drink spiking, Impaired driving
Intervention setting
Club/ disco/ afters
Secondary School
Higher education or university
Target population

Predominently 18-35 year olds that visit the night time social scene, particularly feature pubs and clubs in which stimulant drug use is prevalent.

Substances adressed
Powdered cocaine
Party drugs
Strategic target group (social agents acting as intermediaries between intervention and target group)

Pub and club workers and management, outreach drug workers, police drug liaison and licensing officers and general uniform police officers, range of partners from other enforcement agencies plus essential drug and alcohol services representatives.

Intervention activities
Providing information
Informative talk or lecture
Use of media
Counseling help and treatment
Nightlife management
These include:Premises initially assessed and drug use profiled;Staff trained in drug recognition, trends, market, user signs/symptoms and dealer tactics;Posters displayed and literature ditributed, powerful outside projection of images onto sides of buildings;Police and partners condition of entry requirements instigated to detect drug presence, educate general public, advise drug users and reduce dealing;Message supported by engagement with local school, college and workplace venues.
Theory/evidence behind the intervention

By analysis of market trends, drug availablity and intelligence we are able to identify how recreational street level drugs markets operate within town centres at night and the range of tactics available to disrupt use and dealing, educate and provide treatment support.

Number of people needed
Small scale - 6 persons. large scale - 20+
Specific training required?
Expert users of trace detection machines and good knowledge of street recreational drug markets
Time required to run
Mainly take place during busy weekend evenings between 1800 and 0300 hours on a weekly basis around town centres across the region
Other resource requirements

Intervention focuses on the use of drug trace detection devices at venues to deter supply within premises, identify users, engage in preventative awareness advice and identify treatment opportunities.

Evaluation details

Type of evaluator (e.g. external consultant, internal evaluator)
Internal evaluator
Evaluation results (Outcome evaluation)

The operation can be best described as a crime reduction tool. As a deterrent for drug users and dealers it sends a message that a high profile drugs initiative is in operation. It also has a strong partnership link where applications will rely on the support and interaction of others be it licensees, school heads or town centre workers. Deploying devices as part of an operation has some clear benefits with reassuring and educating the public, which are shown in more detail from a Kent Police survey where 78.4% stated the presence of a machine would deter them from carrying drugs into a premises and 68.6% felt safer to enter premises.

Other key examples include:

  • Its contribution to reducing night time disorder. In a random selection of 23 weekend night time operations in the town centre pub and club environments, there was a 57.2% reduction in town centre crime/disorder when excluding the average 4.3 drug offences detected per operation as compared with a similar night with no such deployments.
  • Since mid 2005 over 620 pubs have been included in training and swabbing to profile drug trends in their premises. In excess of 100 of these include follow up checks for drugs as a 'condition of entry'. Hand swabs of just under 26,000 people have been taken with 1,987 returning a meaningful positive result - 88% of which has been for cocaine. This has led to 152 persons being arrested in possession and 299 people admitting recent drug use, denied entry to premises but offered access to counselling or advice. Each of the 26000 persons swabbed were in one to one dialogue with police providing individual dialogue information and drugs advice.
  • 328 workplaces were visited and screened for drugs revealing 78 with high levels of cocaine. A total of 144 premises were referred to specialist workplace drug services.
  • 36 school visits were made, presenting to 11700 pupils, 1200 parents, and 525 teachers, with 21 pupils placed on a drugs support programme. There was a reduction in school drug based incidents from 2003 to 2004 of 50%.
  • 250 extended police partners trained to date in drugs litter programme.
Evaluation results (Cost effectiveness)

The operation is now core business for police and partner agencies as part of the overall strategy for keeping town centres safe and manageable.

Evaluation results (Other)

The Kent Citizen Panel survey indicated the desire for the programme to now extend to include a cocaine awareness campaign.This has 4 key messages:

  1. cocaine use is illegal
  2. cocaine and alcohol (cocaethylene) create violence
  3. cocaine use is dangerous (supported by mother of deceased user)
  4. cocaine destroys the environment (launched by the Colombian Ambassador on visit to Kent).