Falkirk licensing: Concern over cocaine use in Falkirk district pubs

There is “growing concern about increased cocaine use” in pubs throughout Falkirk district, a Grangemouth councillor has claimed.
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Independent councillor Robert Spears raised the issue at Falkirk Council’s licensing board on Wednesday, asking the local area commander what is being done to address the problem.

Police said they were aware of “widespread” use of the drug.

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Chief Inspector Lynsey Kidd, assured him: “When we do come across cocaine use or any drug use in licensed premises, it is something that we do fair amount of intervention with.”

Police said they were aware of “widespread” use of cocaine. Pic: File imagePolice said they were aware of “widespread” use of cocaine. Pic: File image
Police said they were aware of “widespread” use of cocaine. Pic: File image

She added that many preventative measures were being taken by the police including instant testing for traces of the Class A drug if a premises is suspected to be involved.

Mr Spears told the meeting: “There is a growing concern about increased cocaine use within our community and a lot of the transactions we believe are taking places in public houses.

“Can you tell me if there is any progress in fighting this?”

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Sergeant Malcolm O’May, of Forth Valley’s licensing department, said that they were aware that “use of cocaine is widespread”.

He added: “We are aware that it is consumed in licensed premises and when that is brought to our attention we link in with those premises and make them aware of it.

“Often they are not aware of it – some will be – but we can visit a premises with these wipes that are Home Office approved and swipe any smooth surfaces where they could have been using cocaine.

“If they have been using cocaine we will get an immediate result from that.”

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He added that where drug-taking is discovered the police will work with the licensed trade, supporting them to combat it and taking the necessary enforcement action where appropriate.

Chief Inspector Kidd said she did not have figures about cocaine use in the district but was happy to look into it.

Giving Police Scotland’s annual report to the licensing board, she said that it had some great examples of partnership working to keep the 354 licensed premises across Falkirk safe.

She praised the joint work of the police licensing team, Falkirk Council’s Licensing Standards Officers and environmental health staff as well as the Falkirk Bid team who work in the town centre.

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She said: “Clearly across Falkirk we have a high number of licensed premises and in comparison to that the disorder associated with licensed premises is low and we can attribute that to much of the really good, positive intervention work that is being done across the Falkirk area.”

The report showed that out of 1235 reports of disorder in 2022/23, including threatening or abusive behaviour, just nine were associated with licensed premises.

Out of 1780 incidents of violent crime in the same time period, 41 were associated with licensed premises.

The report does acknowledge, however, that it is difficult to properly record how many offences are caused by excessive alcohol.

Many of those involved in other crimes will have bought their alcohol from a licensed premises, whether this has been sold responsibly or otherwise.