MORE than 400 people were tested this weekend as police in Reading got tough on drugs in a town centre bar.

Officers ran checks with a drugs itemiser as a condition of entry to the Walkabout bar, off Friar Street, as part of the continuing work to reduce drug-related crime in the town.

Police swabbed the hands of 445 people during the operation on Friday night.

Seven people tested positive for cocaine and eight were searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

A 24-year-old man from Caversham was arrested on suspicion of possession of Class A drugs and has been released on bail to return to Loddon Valley police station on 19 March.

The other people searched were refused entry to the bar because of their high readings for drug contact.

Surfaces within the bar were also tested for drugs but showed only minor traces

Central Reading inspector Keith Stacey, said: "This operation was supported by the venue and was well received by the customers. It shows the value of partnership work between police, Reading Borough Council and licensed premises as we work to try and reduce violent crime.

"If you want to come to Reading to have a good time then you are more than welcome. But if you get involved in violence or drug activity we will take a very hard line and you could find yourself going through the court processes as well as being banned from every pub, bar and club in the town."

Once a person has had their hands swabbed, the drug itemiser tells police within four seconds whether they have been in contact with illegal drugs and if so which ones.

If the reading is particularly high, that person will be searched.

The itemiser can also be used to check surfaces within a bar or club to highlight whether it has an issue with drugs.