Electronic dog sniffs out drugs
By BBC News – Monday, 25 February, 2002
Night clubbers have been brought to face-to-face with the latest weapon in the fight against drugs – an electronic “sniffer dog”.
The machine can detect the slightest trace of any chemical from Class A drugs to explosives.
Up until now, it has been used mainly by customs officers – but Bedfordshire Police are hoping it can help them crack down on drugs in the county’s clubs and pubs.
The machine was taken to a nightspot in Dunstable on Saturday where it was used to check visitors.
Inspector Mark Holbourn, from Bedfordshire Police, said: “If people know that when they go out to licensed premises they could be checked for drugs, they might think twice.
“I think it’s been very successful so far.”
The £28,000 machine, known as a trace detector, operates by vaporising particles taken by swab from a club-goer’s hand or clothing.
It is so sensitive that it can pick up minute quantities of drugs.
If a read-out shows any suspicious substance, officers can carry out further searches or questioning.
Figures have not yet been compiled for the weekend’s operation.
But at its first outing in pubs and clubs before Christmas, the detector helped secure one arrest for possession of cocaine.
Police hope it will help them spot people in possession of a range of drugs, including Ecstasy and the “date-rape” drug Rohypnol.