How rampant cocaine abuse is plaguing Britain’s pubs and forcing landlords to take desperate measures to stamp it out – The Sun

How rampant cocaine abuse is plaguing Britain’s pubs and forcing landlords to take desperate measures to stamp it out – The Sun

WHEN landlady Steph started running a rural pub she didn’t think her day would be spent chucking groups of people out of single toilet cubicles.
But that’s the reality she has had to face to stop cocaine users coming into her pub.
5 John Frankiewicz runs a pub in Northamptonshire and claims having staff who know the regulars well means they can spot anyone who is behaving oddly, or taking drugs
Coke use is so endemic in the UK some boozers have queues of people waiting to snort in the loos longer than at the bar.
Steph has been a licensee for three-and-a-half years and her traditional pub in Flitwick, Bedfordshire is no different.
She has found clear oil WD40 an invaluable tool of her trade, and douses toilet seats, cisterns and toilet seat covers in it to foil users.
It means any coke put on them congeals so can’t be snorted. It’s a tip which cops back too, with Avon and Somerset police previously advising bar owners to spray the lubricant in bathrooms to sabotage drug users.
“I’ve also re-tiled the bathrooms recently, putting small mosaic tiles on every flat surface in both the ladies and gents toilets, including the window ledges, because it makes the surface bumpy and uneven and they won’t be able to chop their lines of cocaine on it,” she adds to The Sun Online.
“The toilets have frosted glass windows too and while my staff and I patrol the toilets regularly from inside the pub, we’ll also walk around outside and if we see two figures through the frosted glass in one cubicle, then we know to go in and remove them.”
5 Pub landlords all over the country spray WD40 on surfaces so any coke put on them congeals. It’s a tip Avon and Somerset police backCredit: Alamy
While it might sound extreme, Steph is just one of many landlords up and down the country battling to keep coke out of their pub.
Twenty-five per cent of pubs in the UK have shut since 2001, with figures released earlier this year showing they are closing at a rate of one every 12 hours.
Already up against it in terms of rising costs and competition from cheap supermarket deals on booze, prolific drug use caused by the growing number of customers taking cocaine is another problem facing landlords.
Landlords risk losing their licence and can even be jailed for up to 14 years if they are seen to be condoning drug use in their pubs.
But as well as the legal ramifications, cocaine use can pose other problems for landlords.
People on coke can become loud and aggressive, intimidating other patrons.
Inhibitions go out the window as promiscuity rises too – one of the reasons a 2017 study found regular cocaine users are more likely to have STDs.
5 Saloon-style doors can make it harder for people to sneak into pub loos to snort cokeCredit: Getty – Contributor
This is why police have encouraged pub staff to submit to regular swabbing of their venues, with drugs specialist detective sergeant Ian Broughton insisting owners must must “respect” licensing staffs’ requests to swab premises for illegal substances.
Some landlords arguing they shouldn’t need to turn drug detectives themselves to stem the tide of users, claiming swabbing is time consuming and does little to put people off.
Steph is speaking as The Sun launches its End Of The Line campaign, highlighting the impact of rising cocaine use in the UK.
We are raising awareness as the number of users in the UK soars – it’s doubled in the UK in the last five years, with cheap, potent coke fuelling a three-fold rise in hospital admissions for mental illness.
It’s no longer a drug of the middle class either, with people from all walks of life, from labourers to reality TV stars and even this policemen, dabbling – and use in pubs is rife.
Cocaine use and drinking go hand-in-hand for many who believe using lets them booze more.
‘I was a police officer and addict who took coke on duty’
‘Coke use is rife’
It means Steph and her staff are constantly on high alert for customers who are using or dealing.
Other tell-tale signs include too many visits to the pub car park or gardens – where Steph has installed CCTV so she can keep an eye on what’s going on.
“Cocaine use is rife in every pub,” she says.
“It’s a much more socially acceptable drug and all sorts of people take it so it’s harder to isolate those responsible.
“But we are vigilant and our zero tolerance policy and measures seem to be working to stamp it out.”
End Of The LineCocaine use is reaching epidemic levels in Britain, with the UK branded the ‘Coke capital’ of Europe.
Use has doubled in the last five years, and with young people the numbers are even worse.
A staggering one in five 16-to-24-year-olds have taken cocaine in the last year.
That’s why The Sun has launched its End Of The Line campaign, calling for more awareness around the drug.
Cocaine use can cause mental health problems such as anxiety and paranoia, while doctors have linked the rise in cheap, potent coke to an increase in suicide rates.
People from all walks of life, from builders and labourers to celebrities like Jeremy McConnell – who is backing our campaign – have fallen foul of its lure.
It’s an issue that is sweeping the UK and, unless its tackled now, means a mental health crisis is imminent.

Ditch loo lids
Many of the tricks landlords use to try to deter coke users make pubs look a bit down-at-heel – such as removing toilet lids.
“Ultraviolet light makes the drugs more difficult to see and so will act as a deterrent and without the toilet lids, there is no flat surface to snort cocaine off,” says Stephen Baker from National Pubwatch.
“But these tricks tend to just put a sticking plaster over a problem.
“The main thing is that staff need to be constantly aware and checking the toilets and dark corners of the pub regularly.”
National Pubwatch advises owners look out for cocaine-specific signs such as white powder around customers’ nostrils, blood or blood stained items (from nose bleeds), payment with tightly rolled banknotes or traces of blood or powder on cash.
Swapping toilet doors for saloon-style ones can help – so pub owners can see if people are going into cubicles in pairs.
Owners are also advised to make sure any surfaces in loos are sloping, so users can’t snort coke off them.
5 Nick Botting has worked hard to make his pub welcoming for everyone, and part of that has meant keeping cocaine users outCredit: Nick Botting
‘I’ve priced-out the coke users’
Some pub owners say they are deliberately pushing up prices to keep users out – hitting innocent drinkers in the pocket too.
When Nick Botting last year took over The Angel and Crown in London’s Richmond – which had a history of drug issues and dodgy clientele – his first priority was pushing out drug users.
“When I took it over, my aim was to refurbish it and make it totally non-drug friendly,” says Nick, whose traditional pub is just off Richmond’s busy centre.
Nick changed the décor and upped his prices to “price the drug users out”.
He also sprayed WD40 over all the surfaces in the toilets – including the hand-dryers – and used wood and texture instead of smooth materials on all the shelves so coke can’t be snorted off them.
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“We can never eradicate the cocaine problem completely, especially because cocaine seems to be the drug of choice for everyone – from the high end banker buying £50 bottles of wine to your typical young drug user – but we keep an eye on everyone in our pub and if we see customers with dilated eyes or displaying erratic mood swings, we’ll try to move them on,” he says.
“It’s the same with dealers who are often surrounded by crowds of people or going back and forth to the toilets or outside. Vigilance is key.”
‘Coke is an everyman drug’
The problem is just as rife in the countryside. John Frankiewicz has run small village pub the New Inn in Northamptonshire for the last two years.
It used to be a farmhouse and is set it two acres of fields, with John insisting eradicating cocaine use is all about having well-trained, trustworthy staff who know the customers.
“About 30 per cent of our customers are locals who we know well and the rest are those who are just travelling through,” explains John.
“It’s all about engaging with the people that come in, chatting to them and getting to know their behaviour, because with cocaine it’s not always the people you think. It’s a drug that attracts people from all walks of life.
5 One tip has been for landlords to remove seats from loos so there is one less flat surface for users to rack up linesCredit: Getty – Contributor
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“So if people keep disappearing to the toilets and come out looking glazed and worse for wear, we know something is up.
“It’s helpful that there are few invisible areas in this pub too, and we can see the toilets from the bar so it’s easier to keep an eye on everything.
“We also have CCTV in the gardens which we keep tidy and well-manicured with no nooks or crannies, which sends a message out that this a much-loved village pub and isn’t an acceptable place to do drugs.”
Am I addicted to cocaine? The signs and symptoms of addictionCocaine is highly addictive and what can start out as a one-off can quickly turn into a habit.
Regular use of the drug changes the way the brain releases dopamine – a chemical in the brain that makes you feel happy.
But the high is short-lived so often users will take more to feel the desired effects again.
Over time, the body and brain can become too used to cocaine that it builds up a tolerance, which means you have to take more to feel the same high.
If you recognise any of the following behaviours in yourself, it might mean you’ve developed an addiction to cocaine:

You’re taking more of the drug to feel the effects
When you stop or reduce your dosage, you feel agitated, restless and depressed
You’re struggling to cut down or control how much you take, even if you try to
You spend a lot of time thinking about and trying to get cocaine
You’re disregarding family, friends and work in favour of taking cocaine
You know the damage it’s doing to you, but you can’t stop taking it

Jeremy McConnell: ‘Cocaine is the devil, it destroys lives, I feel sick when I look at the old me’


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