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Metropolitan Police Responds To Backlash Over Random Drug Swabbing Footage

Claire Reid

| Last updated 

Metropolitan Police Responds To Backlash Over Random Drug Swabbing Footage

The Metropolitan Police have released a statement following the backlash from a video shared online which showed officers drug swabbing clubbers. You can see the video here:


The clip, shared on the Met Police’s Twitter account, showed officers drug swabbing the hands of random club-goers at two venues in Shoreditch. 

Posting the video on 2 January, the Met wrote: “Taskforce Officers were out recently doing drug swabs in Shoreditch as part of a wider operation to ensure the night time economy is a safe place for all.”

However, the clip was met with a harsh backlash online with people branding it a ‘really poor use of police resources’ and asking what decisions were made to choose who they drug swabbed. 

One person asked: “Bit confused by this. Drugs are everywhere. One can return a positive swab but be totally clean. What is the purpose of this?”

While someone else commented: “Under what law can police officers swab a person in the street for drugs?”

In response to the criticism, the Met Police recently released a statement saying the clip had been filmed during ‘week of action supporting women’s safety’. 

Credit: Met Police
Credit: Met Police

The statement went on to say the swabbing was ‘voluntary’ but that it had agreed with the venues’ owners beforehand that anyone who refused to be tested would not be able to enter the club.

The statement read: “Officers across the Met came together to work in 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 we know there is an inextricable link between Class A drugs and serious crime and violence on the streets of London. Shoreditch has been a hotspot for these kinds of offences.

“On this occasion, police worked with two licensed premises in Curtain Road EC2A, with the consent of the licensees, and authorised by the Met's Licensing Unit, to run an operation utilising a drugs itemiser machine.”

It went on: “The use of the machine was as a condition of entry, that condition being agreed with the licensees for that night. Anyone who refused was not allowed entry to the venues on the night. It was made clear to those wanting to attend the venues that the swabbing was voluntary.

Credit: Met Police
Credit: Met Police

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

“If anyone provided a positive swab and no further grounds for search were identified they were allowed to continue with their night. If further grounds were observed, then searches were conducted. No personal details were obtained from anyone unless they provided them

when stopped/searched.

“Safeguarding officers were also present to speak to people about the dangers of drug use, signposting them to charitable organisations and government programmes regarding addiction/misuse of controlled substances.

“On the night, one woman was arrested on suspicion of possession of Class A drugs after being observed 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. Fifteen people were searched in total.”

Featured Image Credit: Met Police

Topics: UK News, Crime

Claire Reid
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