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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Liaison and networking

Liaison between police and venues

The importance of liaison between police and venues cannot be over-stated. Many of the difficulties involved in running a venue or event that is profitable, safe and legal can be overcome by good working relationships between local officers and owners, managers and promoters. There should be an agreement about the way in which incidents relating to drug use or dealing should be handled.

Clarification of expectations

The police should clarify in which circumstances they wish to be called and what they expect of door supervisors. Police officers may not always be able to respond promptly, especially on weekend evenings and any agreement should cover what should happen when police cannot attend.

The procedures for seizing and keeping secure suspected controlled drugs should also be formally agreed. In some areas, it is regarded as good practice for police officers to come to the club to collect seized substances on a regular basis. This visit also allows the opportunity to exchange information and concerns.

Many license holders worry about handing over drugs to the police, fearing that if they are regularly seizing drugs, they may be considered to have a serious drug problem and their licence could be at risk.

Conversely, police officers often target venues who never seize drugs, feeling that they may be condoning drug use or dealing. These, normally unspoken, fears can evaporate within a good working relationship which involves frequent personal contact. Police services appreciate the difficulties in preventing drug dealing in a club setting and would rather work with licensees to tackle an identified problem than seek to close a venue down, which, in any case, may only displace any drug dealing taking place.

Liaison between venues

Liaison between venues – especially those who provide similar events and are competitors – and police is particularly valuable. Banning a suspected drug dealer from one club may result in him or her trying to sell drugs in another. If a group of clubs in a city centre are successful in reducing the amount of dealing inside their premises, it may be that drugs are being sold more frequently in local ‘feeder’ pubs or bars where customers meet before going clubbing.

The police, in collaboration with the local Community Safety Partnership, should seek to institute regular fora for exchanging information, on a formal or informal basis. Local Pubwatch schemes are often good networks for exchanging this sort of information as is the SaferSounds Partnership in London.

If you would like to know more about the work of security staff and door supervisors in relation to drugs, you can see the main roles and responsibilities here.


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