Helping hospitality and event managers deal with patrons using illicit drugs

The following responses are provided to help deal with a situation where a patron has used illicit drugs.

Do I need permission to call an ambulance for someone?

If you believe someone is in need of immediate medical assistance, call an ambulance. The individual's permission is not required.

What should I do if someone is reluctant, or their friend is reluctant, to receive medical assistance?

Explain that you have duty of care obligation under common law to provide a safe environment for patrons. Inform them of the importance of seeking immediate medical assistance for any medical problem.  Inform them that police do not attend medical emergencies unless ambulance officers call for help or a death occurs.

What should I do if someone claims to have had their drink spiked?

Believe them. Notify management, ensure someone stays with the person, seek medical assistance and encourage the person to notify police of the incident.

What are my responsibilities as a liquor licensee under the law in relation to illicit drugs on licensed premises?

The Code of Practice under the Liquor Licensing Act 1997 requires a licensee to establish and maintain appropriate practices to guard against the licensed premises being used for the purpose of illicit drug dealing. A licensee should cooperate with police in the investigation of illicit drug use.

What key information should I provide to my staff in order to appropriately respond to illicit drug issues?

Staff should understand the legal obligations of an event manager/licensee or approved responsible person, and be vigilant and report any unusual or suspicious behaviour by patrons to management. Staff should cooperate with police investigating illicit drug issues. All staff should be aware of the premise’s procedures to ensure an immediate, appropriate and adequate response to any overdose or other medical emergency that occurs in or around the venue or event.

How will authorities view my request if I ask for help to deal with illicit drug use within my venue or event?

An event manager or licensee will be seen as taking a responsible attitude towards the safety, health and welfare of patrons and staff by acknowledging the possibility of illicit drug use on or in the vicinity of the event or venue.

What should I do if I identify someone dealing drugs on the premises?

Illicit drug dealing is illegal and should be reported to the police. If a person is detected dealing drugs on or adjacent to licensed premises, police should be notified.

How should patrons be dealt with who are violent or aggressive while under the effect of drugs?

To safeguard other patrons, staff and the person who is under the influence of drugs, event managers or licensees should request that police escort the person off the premises. It is important that any person suffering adverse effects from drugs is appropriately supervised to ensure they do not put themselves or others at risk of injury.

Can unattended drinks be collected to minimise the risk of drink spiking?

Yes, however, to avoid disputes with patrons, signs should be prominently placed throughout the premises advising patrons that in the interests of their safety unattended drinks will be collected. Signs are available from the Consumer and Business Services.

See also