ALMOST everybody in Wales will have hard drugs on their hands at some point today, according to a cutting-edge detection machine.
The problem has reached the point that bank notes, taps and door handles in pubs, nightclubs and even the offices of Wales have traces of class A narcotics.
It even infiltrates the National Assembly building in Cardiff Bay.
Depending on how cynical one might be about the behaviour of our fine upstanding political representatives, this may not seem the most obvious place to demonstrate the powers of the Ion Track Trace Detector Machine.
But AMs were yesterday shocked to discover readings of drugs like heroin and cocaine on their hands. Out of curiosity, they queued to volunteer themselves for trial using the machine with its stern beeping noises and complicated light-up screen. And there were a few raised eyebrows as the machine did its work.
Edwina Hart, social justice minister for Wales, tested positive for cannabis after her hands were swabbed using a special cloth.
She said, "You could pick it up anywhere, couldn't you?
"It could come out of cash, a cash-point, a beer mat, or anything else.
"It is a very sophisticated system that can pick up anything, if you have been in contact with someone's jacket or anything."
Conservative AM William Graham organised the demonstration using the first machine introduced to Wales, which is owned by Gwent Police.
But even he was shocked to test positive for THC, the chemical found in cannabis. "Good gracious, where the dickens could I have got that from?" he asked.
Nick Bourne, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, was one of the AMs who tested negative.
He said, "May I pay tribute to the Ion Track system, despite the fact that both the Minister and William Graham tested positive.
"I was relieved that I didn't - but it is an excellent system none- theless."
With their pin stripe suits and attempts to cultivate a clean-cut image, politicians are hardly the stereotype of the drugs criminals that police regularly deal with.
PC Simon James, crime prevention officer, said that it showed there was no place to hide.
"The major use will be in nightclubs and drug dealers would be an idiot to come into a club with this machine in there.
"It is a deterrent and preventive measure really. In Gwent we have a hit-list of 10 pubs and can use this machine to do swabs on tables, chairs and narrow things down to improve our intelligence.
"It can be used to search houses. For example in some parts of the UK where there is a problem with crack cocaine they have swabbed microwaves and found traces."
PC James denied that this machine casts suspicion on everybody, and that it is not subjective enough.
"The way we interpret the readings plays a big part, as does the way a person reacts if found with traces of drugs on their hands," he said. "We can adjust the sensitivity and exclude certain drugs depending on how the machine is being used."
Gwent Police had the first machine in Wales but recently two have been installed at Cardiff International Airport and South Wales Police also acquired a machine last week.
Despite his positive testing, Mr Graham said he supported the machine. He said, "Anything that deters people from taking drugs is a good thing. If people know this thing exists, then they know they might get caught."