Emergency Info

Guidelines on when to call the Emergency Services 999 for unwell recreational drug users

Call 999 if ANY one of the following is present:

Unconsciousness – if the patient does not respond to vocal commands, requires painful stimulus (e.g. pressure across the fingernails) to respond or does not respond at all.

Significant agitation (e.g. pacing around the room) or aggression not settling within 15 minutes.

Seizures (e.g. a convulsion similar to an epileptic fit)

Breathing difficulties such as fast breathing rate which does not settle within 15 minutes.

Heart rate over 140 beats per minute not settling within 5 minutes.

Temperature over 38.5 not settling after about 5 minutes of rest, or if very flushed and feels very hot if no thermometer is available.

Blood pressure – Systolic (“upper pressure”) over 180mmHg, or Diastolic (“lower pressure”) over 110mmHg on two repeated blood pressure measurements.

Other concerns – if there are any other concerns (e.g. severe headache, chest pain).


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Entry to the venue

As part of a licence holder’s policy on drugs, there should be a section setting out policies and procedures for searching customers for drugs and weapons including firearms.

You can find more detail in this section on searches. These policies should be formulated in consultation with local police. It is important that the policy contains a complaints procedure.


Many venues will scan customers’ ID and photograph them on entry and store that information securely on a computerised system. This provides a useful source of information for police wishing to identify anyone suspected of a criminal offence and also allows businesses to share information about known drug dealers or those who have committed other criminal offences on licensed premises.

Search policy

Where ID scanners are used, searching should take place after the customer has provided ID, this will assist police should illegal items be found and the individual is refused entry or where detaining is considered, it is either not safe to do so or the individual leaves the scene.

The policy of searching customers for drugs and weapons should be advertised widely, on electronic and other media, tickets and flyers and prominently in entrance and queuing areas.

Secure disposal boxes (often known as drug boxes) should also be provided so that customers who have drugs or other potentially prohibited items on them and still wish to enter the venue can dispose of these items before being searched. These boxes must be secure and a protocol should be established for opening them. The opening of the box and any findings should be recorded and witnessed by at least two people. Any drugs should be stored securely before being handed over to the police.

Some Police Services issue clubs with self-sealing exhibit bags. Any drugs found are placed in these and retained by the management for collection by the police. The bags are all individually numbered and tamper-proof.

Door supervisors

A significant factor in tackling drug dealing and usage in premises is the quality of door supervisor team. A well trained team of professional door staff can be extremely effective in preventing drug dealing and quickly identifying and intervening where patrons may be suffering the adverse effects of drug usage.

However premises operators should be mindful of the potential risk of criminal infiltration into security staff and they should seek police assistance immediately should they suspect this has happened.

The Security Industry Authority (SIA)ensures that everyone working in the security industry, including door supervisors, is licensed. To gain a licence, individuals are required to undergo a criminal records check and complete and pass a training course. In addition to licensing individuals, the SIA also runs an approved contractor scheme for companies who comply with a set of operational and performance standards.

If you work as a member of security staff or door supervisor, you can see the main roles and responsibilities for this group of staff.


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