A video of taskforce officers conducting swabs at two venues in the east London neighbourhood was posted to the Met’s official Twitter account on Sunday without any further context.
This led to many people demanding to know whether they had gained the person’s permission and how they decided to test certain people for drugs.
Others branded it a “PR stunt” and said it was a “really poor use of police resources”.
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. Read more here: pic.twitter.com/9ojj6Gnk6D
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) January 3, 2022
On Monday the Met responded by posting a lengthy statement to explain their actions.
In a statement it said the tests were being carried out as a condition of entry at two licensed premises as part of a week of action “supporting women’s safety” between December 6 and 12.
“The upsurge in activity included safety patrols of the night time economy, as well as tackling unlicensed minicabs, and attending schools to speak to staff and students,” the statement said.
“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 of London.
“Shoreditch has been a hotspot for these kinds of offences,” they said.
Fifteen searches were conducted on the night the footage was filmed and anyone who refused was not allowed entry to the venues. The Met stressed the “swabbing was voluntary”.
“Refusal did not automatically mean that the person would be searched under S23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act,” the statement added.
One woman was arrested on suspicion of possession Class A drugs “after 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 itemizer machine,” the Met said.
It said those who provided a positive swab and had “no further grounds” for search were allowed to continue with their night.
The Met has been approached for further comment.