By Andrew Starke

The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) of NSW has lent its support to those pub owners using sniffer dogs and other security measures to keep drugs out of their venues.

The industry body was responding to questions from TheShout on whether it supported the actions of a Wollongong publican using security company sniffer dogs to conduct random drug searches of patrons both inside and outside his establishment.

General manager of the Illawarra Hotel, Paul Anzani, told the Daily Telegraph that the pub had hired a security contractor to ensure patron safety and not because it had a specific drug problem.

He said the random searches were more of a deterrent as security guards cannot legally search or detain anyone outside the venue.

“This licensee has simply reiterated what the AHA has been saying for some time – drugs are the elephant in the room,” said AHA (NSW) CEO, Sally Fielke.

“Whilst we commend his proactive initiative, it’s time for Government to also step up, acknowledge that drugs are an issue and help us to tailor initiatives and solutions accordingly.”

The AHA has on several occasions asked the police to trial random drug testing of individuals who are arrested for so called ‘alcohol related’ violence in and around licensed venues.

Fielke said the AHA(NSW) was so concerned about this issue that it had put up $100,000 and asked the Government to match this funding so that the industry body could conduct a six month trial in a particular precinct.

But would the AHA actively encourage its members to impose the drastic measures implemented by the Illawarra Hotel?

“We support any proactive initiative by licensees that encourages safer venues,” said Fielke.

“It’s not for everyone obviously and there are clearly costs and legal issues to be considered.”

Fielke said the need for decisive action was back up by quarterly Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) data which continues to show a massive increase in drug possession and use.

“In the last quarter alone, we saw possession and/or use of cocaine up 55.5 percant and narcotics up 21 percent,” she said.

“Our members are becoming increasingly frustrated with the fact that government and police continue to ignore what is a growing issue and continue to lay the blame on licensed venues for any antisocial behaviour issues that arise.

“Stricter Responsible Service of Alcohol, drink restriction, RSA marshalls etc are all ineffective if someone is also affected by illicit drugs.”

Has your venue had a particular issue with drugs and how have you sought to resolve it?
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The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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