A clampdown on bad behaviour in Congleton pubs is expected to ramp up over coming weeks, when new funding is received.
The town’s Pubwatch group has been awarded almost £400 to purchase equipment including cocaine detection wipes, “to make drug detection easier”.
Police will support the campaign by increasing patrols and carrying out visits with sniffer dogs, while pubs in the group say that anyone found in possession of drugs will get a 12-month ban from all establishments in Pubwatch.
On Thursday, the town council’s Finance and Policy Committee agreed to give the organisation £399.75 to be spent on 20 packs of cocaine detection wipes, as well as UV torches.
The equipment will be supplied to 20 of the pubs in Pubwatch – the remaining two belong to national chains that are able to get equipment from their regional offices.
Applying for the cash, the group explained in its application that the aim of the project was to “reduce and stop the illegal use of drugs in Congleton’s pubs” as well as to “re-establish the town’s reputation post lockdown as a pleasant and safe place to go, day or night”.
It continued: “The Pubwatch group, in partnership with the police and town council, would like to carry out a coordinated campaign showing that drug taking in Congleton pubs will not be accepted.
“The police will support the campaign by increasing local patrols and periodically carrying out visits with dogs trained to sniff out drugs. This is part of an initiative to support the licensees and reassure the public.
“The police will also support the campaign by carrying out the operational orders and associated actions. Pubwatch members will be taking a tough approach on anyone found to be in procession of drugs on their premises and will issue 12-month bans.
“The bans will be enforced in all the pubs in Congleton Pubwatch.
“The Pubwatch group is asking the town council to support this initiative by supplying a grant or equipment to make drug detection easier during this coordinated targeted campaign.”
At last week’s meeting, Coun George Hayes said: “I think this is a very wise project. There have been discussions over the past few months about the safe return to pubs and bars, so this is an integral part of that.
“It is in line with the work that the council’s anti-social behaviour group has been doing to support our night-time economy to be safe.”
Coun Russell Chadwick said: “This is an excellent application. It will give pubs the ability to check whether anybody is using drugs on their premises, and it should be fully supported by the council.”
The project is expected to be evaluated by the Pubwatch group based on the number of incidents of drug-related activities recorded in pubs as well as feedback from the police on incidents in the town.