TWO revellers were found in possession of drugs on Friday night while police searched pubs and clubs in the town.

The licensed premises checks with passive drugs dog Patch were carried out during a day of action by Wiltshire Police as part of Operation Harness.

Five-year-old Patch and his handler, PC Steve Duffy, spent six hours searching the pubs and clubs in Old Town and the town centre for illegal narcotics, with Patch sniffing out nine people who had possessed, encountered or been around controlled substances in the past week.

PC Steve Duffy said: “We don’t seem to find as many as we used to. The most common ones are cannabis, crack cocaine and amphetamines.

“I don’t know why the finds are lower, it may be just because habits are changing.

“What is a concern is legal highs, because all they need to do is change a chemical composition and it has a different smell.”

Patch is trained to sniff out cannabis, crack cocaine, ecstasy or MDMA, heroin, ketamine, amphetamines and Meow Meow, also known as mephedrone.

The border collie/spaniel cross-breed’s nose is so sensitive, he can sense whether someone has been around drugs, even if they were not the ones consuming them, up to a week later.

When Patch smells something in the air around a person he indicates by either sitting next to them, or following them until he is asked to stop.

PC Duffy said: “Cannabis is a particularly smelly drug and it stays around a long time, and he can smell if someone has been smoking it or been around people smoking it for two, three days, sometimes more.”

Insp Adrian Burt of Wiltshire Police, who led the licensed premises checks in Swindon, was pleased that the numbers of finds were relatively low.

He said: “This is less than we would expect, and footfall was lower on Friday than we thought but less indications is good news.

“We do premises checks on a regular basis. If people consume too much alcohol, and/or take drugs, they become vulnerable, and sometimes can become aggressive.”

Wiltshire Police work with landlords and licensees to help prevent crime.

Paul Mellor, chairman of Pubwatch, said: “It’s part of what you expect in the industry. In Swindon it’s not as bad as in other places but it is a problem every town has.

“We work with the police and we appreciate their help.”

The premises check was part of a day of action under Operation Harness, which involves Wiltshire Police working with a variety of agencies including the council, housing associations and drugs services to clamp down on crime and disorder in local neighbourhoods.

For more information about Operation Harness, visit 4773-operation-harness