Mandatory Nightclub Bag Searches On The Horizon

The Petition for Nightclub Bag Searches

In light of the recent storm surround nightclub drink spiking and spiking by injection, pressure has been mounting on the government to act. A petition, submitted by Scottish 24 year old Hannah Thompson, has now reached over 100,000 signatures meaning it will be debated in parliament. The petition requests to make it a legal requirement of nightclubs to thoroughly search guests on entry.

The petition states – “I would like the UK Government to make it law that nightclubs must search guests on arrival to prevent harmful weapons and other items entering the establishment. This could be a pat down search or metal detector, but must involve measures being put in place to ensure the safety of the public.”

Miss Thompson states that a history of ‘date rape’ drug incidents in nightclubs is why a lawful change is required, and asks the question “why aren’t nightclubs required to do more to prevent harmful items making it into their clubs?” Interest on this particular question seems to have risen after continued reports of needle spiking and the popular Girls Night In movement.

Many nightclubs already act on a policy of randomised searches, however this petition asks for a step further, with mandatory searches for everyone wanting to enter a nightclub. In their response, the Government has pointed out that “the use of weapons and ‘date-rape’ drugs is not limited to night clubs.”

The 2003 Licensing Act does require steps to be taken by owners of premises selling alcohol, these include CCTV, door staff and trained staff members. Licensing authorities can and do force certain license-holders to act out entry nightclub bag searches.

The Questions around Nightclub Bag Searches

The practicality of the suggested measures has come into question. The Government states that blanket conditions are not feasible nor ideal. Some key questions and considerations that this petition highlights include:

  • Would all nightclubs be required to purchase metal detectors?
  • Where do the rules stand on prescription medicine or insulin or epidurals?
  • Could the pat down of men and women become problematic?
  • What are the costs on nightclubs for adopting the measures?
  • What is the universal procedure if legal drugs or minor weapon-like objects are found?
  • Why are nightclubs being isolated? Should searches be extended to bars and pubs?

Hannah Thompson noted to local press that gigs and festivals more often than not require mandatory searches. Yet the success of this is debated. Even so, could nightclub owners look at a festival organiser’s business model and adapt their venue?

How will Bag Searches affect Nightclubs?

Cost, time, legislation. Nightclubs, the worst affected industry by the pandemic, would now be required to invest in preventative changes to stop spiking incidents. Is this feasible? The opinions are mixed.

Have your say!

NDML wants to know how bag searches would predictively affect nightclub owners and staff. We have created a poll asking nightlife workers: Would you be in favour of nightclub bag searches?

The answer options are

  • Yes, I will sign the petition
  • No, I cannot support this being made law
  • I will sign the petition but I don’t think it solves the problem

Take part in the Social Survey here

If you would like to have your say and express a more detailed opinion, email NDML here.


It’s NDML’s mission to protect the nightlife industry. We believe everyone should have their say on topics which affect our industry, and the spiking epidemic has come to the forefront in recent weeks. Read our article on the subject of how to stop nightclub spiking here.

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