IN THE PRESS: Salisbury hoping to repeat successful drugs operation

A DRUGS dog called Patch was employed to sniff out racegoers carrying illegal substances at Salisbury’s popular ladies night in a joint operation with Wiltshire Police likely to be repeated at the track, writes Graham Green [Racing Post].

Officers stopped and searched a number of people, five of whom were dealt with for possession of drugs, including small amounts of cocaine and cannabis.

The initiative at Saturday’s meeting  - which drew a crowd of nearly 7,000 for the biggest attendance in the party event’s 13-year history – has been hailed a success by executive director Jeremy Martin, who is keen the drug culture prevalent in other areas of society is kept off the recourse.

“We’ve an excellent relationship with Wiltshire Police and though it a good idea to send out the message that if people want to bring drugs on to the racecourse we’re going to try prevent that,” explained Martin.

“We had a dog, Patch, on the crossing at the main arriving point and he pulled out about a dozen people, but for minor, small amounts of drugs, and they were reported or issued with warnings. As I understand it no arrests were made.”

Fifteen racegoers were subject to searches under Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, of which two received cannabis warnings, two were given advice regarding cannabis use, and one interviewed and reported for possession of a class A drug thought to be cocaine.

Martin added: “Drugs are a part of our culture but we don’t want them here and I was very pleased with how the operation went. It’s the first time we’ve done it, and if Wiltshire Police will provide the resources we’ll do it again.”

Sergeant Dave Whitby of Wiltshire Police said: “It’s a testament to the people attending the races, and the ongoing work being undertaken by staff at the racecourse, that of over 7,000 people attending ladies night only a tiny percentage were dealt with by the police.

“However, we’ll not be complacent about potential problems with drugs and alcohol-fuelled crime at events throughout the Salisbury area, and I’m looking forward to running similar operations with the racecourse and their security provider, Venture Security, at other events.”

Green, G. (2015) ' Salisbury hoping to repeat successful drugs operation', Racing Post, 14 July 2015, p. 7