The Met Police have been slammed for their ‘invasive’ policing after officers took to the streets of London to carry out random drugs swabs on clubbers during a ‘week of action’ tackling violence against women.
Footage posted to social media by the force showed officers walking through Shoreditch, which has seen a spike in incidents where women and girls have been made to feel unsafe, and swabbing revellers to ensure a safe ‘night time economy’.
The force revealed that the operation on the night saw one woman arrested on suspicion of possession of Class A drugs after she was observed disposing of a suspicious package.
A total of 55 people were arrested during the Met’s ‘week of action’, which included safety patrols at night, drug swabbing and targeting predatory behaviour reported outside of schools, from December 6 – December 12.
However social media users have since slammed officers for randomly swabbing clubbers, with some describing the operation as ‘incredibly invasive’.
Officers spoke with revellers in Shoreditch, London, during the Met Police’s ‘week of action’ tackling violence against women and girls
Footage posted to social media by the force today showed officers walking the streets of London and swabbing clubbers
One person wrote: ‘Is there any evidence this makes the night time economy a safer place for all?’
While another commented: ‘I’m not sure I like the intrusion into civil liberties here. Devote resources to criminal suppliers? Are you testing for alcohol as well which although legal causes more public disorder?
‘Do you think this will win over communities with this style of policing?’
Another person added: ‘What does ”ensure the night time economy is a safe place for all” mean? Randomly swabbing members of the public seems incredibly invasive.’
Meanwhile another social media user said: ‘What was the legal basis on which you did this? Consent of the participant? If so, what on earth did you expect to achieve with this?’
After sharing the footage on social media the Met Police said taskforce officers came together to work in areas which have seen a spike in incidents where women and girls have been made to feel unsafe or have been victims of crime.
A statement read: ‘The video posted by the Met on social media was filmed in Shoreditch during a ‘week of action’ supporting women’s safety between Monday, 6 and Sunday, 12 December 2021.
‘The upsurge in activity included safety patrols of the night time economy, as well as tackling unlicensed minicabs, and attending schools and to speak to staff and students.
‘Officers across the Met came together to work in areas which have seen a spike in incidents where women and girls have been made to feel unsafe or have been victims of crime, and we know there is an inextricable link between Class A drugs and serious crime and violence on the streets in London.
‘Shoreditch has been a hotspot for these kinds of offences.
Taskforce officers carried out safety patrols and swabbed clubbers to ensure a safer ‘night time economy’
The force used a drugs itemiser machine which works the same way as those found at airports in that it tests for a presence on a surface that has been swabbed
‘On this occasion, police worked with two licensed premises in Curtain Road EC2A, with the consent of the licenses, and authorised by the Met’s Licensing Unit, to run an operation utilising a drugs itemiser machine.
‘The machine works the same way as those found at airports in that it tests for a presence on a surface that has been swabbed (ie hands).
‘The Chair of the local Independent Advisory Group was also invited and was present to observe the operation.
‘The use of the machine was a condition of entry, that condition being agreed with the licensees for that night. Anyone who refused was not allowed entry to the venues on that night. It was made clear to those wanting to attend the venues that the swabbing was voluntary.
‘Refusal did not automatically mean that the person would be searched under S23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act.’
The force added: ‘On the night, one woman was arrested on suspicion of possession of Class A drugs after being observed disposing of a suspicious package.
‘This was after a woman she was with had indicated a high reading of Class A drugs following use of the drugs itemiser machine.’
Social media users have since slammed officers for randomly swabbing clubbers, with some describing the operation as ‘incredibly invasive’
Last month the Metropolitan Police said a man wanted for sexual harassment, and another for hitting a woman while on a first date were two of 55 people arrested during a week of action tackling violence against women and girls.
Led by the Territorial Support Group (TSG), officers came together to work in areas which have seen a spike in incidents against women and girls.
Chief Inspector Grace Blake-Turner, from the Met’s Taskforce, said: ‘We’ve seen some brilliant collaborative work this week from all the officers involved in this activity.
‘They have achieved some significant results, and taken some dangerous individuals off the streets.
‘Officers have arrested people for an array of offences including a man wanted in relation to a sexual touching offence, for rape and for assaulting a female police officer.’
As well as carrying out enforcement, officers also took the time to speak with groups to educate and evaluate the issue of violence against women and girls.
‘Officers attended schools and universities to talk about topics such as consent, the sharing of private photos and gave crime prevention advice.
‘The results from this week show how serious the Met is about catching predatory offenders and removing them from London’s streets.
‘This action will not stop because the week of action has now come to a close.
‘We will continue, as we do every day, to deploy across the city and make London an inhospitable space for anyone intent on causing violence against women and girls.
‘I would also like to thank all our partners who have supported us this week. We’ve linked in with schools, colleges, licensed venues and local councils to understand their challenges and work to tackle this systemic issue together.
‘We know that women will continue to have worries about feeling safe and I urge anyone who has concerns or anyone who has experienced a crime to speak with us.’