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04th Jan 2022

Met Police issue explanation after drug swab video causes outrage

Steve Hopkins

Bar goers were swabbed for drugs outside two bars in east London

The Met Police has issued a lengthy explanation after a video it posted online showing officers swabbing bargoers for drugs in east London caused outrage.

The force posted a video on Twitter on Sunday of officers swabbing patrons at two venues in Shoreditch, without any further explanation, leading to questions about how they were choosing who to test, and why.

Other Twitter users branded it a “PR stunt” and said it was a “really poor use of police resources”.

The Met has since posted an explanation, saying the tests were being carried out as a condition of entry at two licensed premises as part of a week of action “supporting women’s safety” between December 6 and 12.

“The upsurge in activity included safety patrols of the nighttime economy, as well as tackling unlicensed minicabs, and attending schools to speak to staff and students,” the statement reads.

It went on to say that officers had come together to target areas “which have seen a spike in incidents where women and girls have been made to feel unsafe or have been victims of crime” and stated that there is an “inextricable link between Class A drugs and serious crime and violence on the streets of London”.

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Shoreditch, the statement said, “has been a hotspot for these kinds of offences”.

Fifteen searches were conducted on the night the footage was filmed and anyone who refused was not allowed entry to the venues, the Met said, stressing that the swabbing was “voluntary”.

“Refusal did not automatically mean that the person would be searched under S23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act,” the statement added.

The Met said one woman was arrested on suspicion of possession of a Class A drugs “after disposing of a suspicious package”.

“This was after a woman she was with had indicated a high reading of Class A drugs following use of the drugs itemizer machine,” the Met said.

Those who provided a positive swab and had “no further grounds” for search were allowed to continue with their night, the Met said.