Drug dealers seem to have become the latest surprise 'victims' of the economic downturn.
Police carrying out the usual pre-Christmas spot check on pubs and clubs were amazed not to make a single arrest.
The Royal Borough's licensing officer Alan Barwise, who was part of the team carrying out the checks, said: "We always refer to the Friday before Christmas as 'black Friday' because it is then that we check on pubs and clubs and always end up arresting more people for possessing drugs than we can handle."
Cocaine is usually the drug discovered by sniffer dogs who accompany police and council officers on the spot checks, six of which are carried out annually.
But this year it was a different story. The 15 police officers and their dogs who visited a dozen premises across the borough during the most traditionally busy period for clubs and bars returned to the station empty handed. They did not find a single drug dealer or user, or even an under age drinker.
But the apparently good news has a worrying undercurrent to it.
Mr Barwise said: "Of course in one sense it is a success story if people were not carrying drugs. But many of the premies we visited were half empty at a time when they might have expected to be at their busiest, which is sad for them.
"What has in the past been a problem for a different reason seemed this time to be a real indication of the state of the economy. Even drug dealers aren't doing any business."
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