The weapons helping police win drugs war
COCAINE use is so widespread in Thanet that you do not have to be a user to find that you are carrying it.
Tell-tale traces from a single swab on the hand revealed even I had some.
A millionth of a gram may not enough to get me arrested but was enough to make me wonder where my hands had been.
Found on banknotes, clothing and even in make-up, these microscopic particles can be spotted by a state-of-the-art Ion Track machine.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
The machine, used by Kent Police in its latest anti-drug campaign, finds potential users by detecting traces of cocaine, heroin, Ecstasy or cannabis from just one swab.
Hand-washing will not hide it.
Since March, more than 800 late-night revellers in Thanet have been checked this way.
The swabs are part of Operation Bounty which targets night-time drug use in Thanet's licensed bars and clubs.
Police licensing officer Nigel Cruttenden was part of the team that swabbed 60 people last Friday at The Royal in Ramsgate.
He said: "We started swabbing in February after we closed Purple in Margate to see just how bad the problem was.
"We found there were high levels of cocaine use so are now trying to find out where the drugs have come from."
If someone swabbed is found with anything under two-millionths of a gram it is likely the person could have picked it up by accident.
Anything beyond that point then alarms bell start ringing.
Mr Cruttenden said: "Anything over two millionths then it is likely the person has had contact recently and they will be searched. "Anything over four and they have been in contact with a substance very recently. A reading level over four with any associated disorder would be enough for us to close a premises."
Five people entering The Royal tested positive and one suspected user was refused entry.
Machines are not the only tool police have to find drugs.
Police Labrador H was once a guide dog for the blind, now six, he sniffs out drugs for the police.
His handler PC Bob Davies says H still tries to guide him as they cross the road.
With his fellow sniffer dog, a boisterous three-year-old named Buster, H spent Friday night roaming Ramsgate's town centre with an entourage of 20 officers and two Thanet council licensing officers.
Prior to police visiting The Royal, H and Buster were taken to 11 licensed premises. Five people were found with drugs.
Three were issued with warnings for possession of cannabis.
Two others, one found with amphetamines and cannabis, the other with cocaine, were arrested and given bail to go to Margate police station at a later date.
Yet Operation Bounty is not just about the punitive approach.
Louis Dawber is a youth drug worker from the Kenward Trust, a charity based in Kent which provides drug and alcohol services for young people in the hope of preventing future use.
Louis, who works and live in Thanet, occasionally joins the police in their spot checks.
He said: "I came to observe the police do their work. To see just what they have to deal with and how deep the drug problem is.
"My concern is with early prevention.
"By going out with the police I can find out which people are at risk at using and give them the support they need. The hope is that by reaching more young people they don't start using in the first place."
For more information about the Kenward trust, go to kenward-trust.org for information and advice on drugs and drug abuse go to www.talktofrank.com