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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Clear procedures

Door supervisors need to be aware of search/seizure/arrest procedures at the venue, particularly in relation to controlled drugs and offensive weapons. The use of search arches or metal detectors is strongly recommended by police services. Some festivals also require all entrants to pass by a drug dog; any event using drug dogs should discuss protocols and procedures with police licensing officers in advance.

Search as condition of entry

All searches should take place where there is full CCTV coverage and where prohibited or illegal items are discovered assistance should be sought and where possible all following actions involving the individual in possession of the items should be covered by bodyworn video camera.

Door supervisors have no statutory legal rights to search customers. Searches can only be conducted with the customer’s consent, as a condition of entry. The fact that searches will be conducted should be clearly advertised. Customers should normally be searched by door supervisors of the same sex. Under no circumstances should door supervisors perform strip searches.

Search as condition of remaining

Some premises may wish to adopt this protocol where there is an identified problem of drug usage within the premises. It may be particularly where there has been suspicious activity taking place for example two persons sharing a toilet cubicle or regular attendance on an individual by number of different patrons. Following on from this security staff may wish to seek assistance from colleagues and ensure that any search is conducted in full view of CCTV and preferably covered additionally by bodyworn video cameras.

Conducting a search

Any customer refusing to consent to a search should be politely but firmly refused entry to the venue. It is important that those conducting searches should do so in a respectful and polite manner, remembering that those being searched are customers. Searching should not cause undue problems to customers, such as requiring them to wait outside in cold weather. The methods and approach to searching influence the mood of clubbers, and set the tone for compliance with the club’s practices. It is advised that a full body pat down search takes place including the emptying of pockets and removal of bulky outer clothing and hats.

However if a clubber feels that their search was too intimate or inappropriate in other ways, there should be a clearly advertised complaints procedure.

Where it is not possible or practical to search every patron on entry it is important that random searches take place this should not be for example every 5th or 7th customer but completely random so as to provide the best opportunity to disrupt the likelihood of drugs and weapons entering premises. Where there is an identified or known risk at the premises search of every patron is strongly advised.

Finding drugs

Where suspected controlled drugs are found on customers during a search, door supervisors have two options. They can either seize the items and refuse entry to the customer, booking in the property in the incident book before handing it to a supervisor or manager for secure storage (see below), or they can seize the items, detain the customer and seized items and call the police.
The local police service should make it clear when they expect the venue to call police the licence holder’s drug policy should make it clear what is expected of staff.

All seizures should be witnessed by a supervisor and recorded immediately. Door supervisors should not retain possession of any seized items which should be transferred to secure storage immediately. See more detailed information about What to do when you find drugs.

Storing illegal drugs

A number of companies manufacture metal boxes for the safe deposit of drugs. Typically these are made from heavy duty steel and feature welded hinges to prevent tampering. They have a one way loading system which makes it safe to deposit substances and impossible to retrieve drugs from the box without unlocking it. Specialist boxes come fitted with two steel locks mounted in the door – local agreements may suggest that the venue manager keeps one key while the police keep the other. The box can then only be opened by both parties together, safeguarding the venue and its staff from any accusations of removing drugs from the box. The boxes are designed to be wall-mounted.


Searching should be especially vigilant in those clubs which have had recent problems with drug dealing or weapons. It is particularly important that customers are subjected to the same search procedures when they re-enter the club after going outside to smoke or for any other reason. Otherwise, it is too easy to collect drugs or a weapon from an associate, vehicle or hiding place after under-going the initial search.


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