A FORMER top cop has called for a whistle-blowers' hotline to combat the scourge of drugs in nightclubs.

Founder of the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA), Graeme Pearson, believes an anonymous scheme could help tackle drug dealing.

He believes hotlines could be set up for clubbers and revellers who have any concerns about drugs in nightclubs.

Mr Pearson told the Evening Times: "If you wanted to report a drugs issue to a club, who would you go to?

"A phoneline, where you can anonymously leave messages about drug issues within clubs, would help deal with this problem."

Mr Pearson today warned legal highs and ecstasy tablets are becoming "as dangerous" as hard drugs, such as heroin and cocaine.

His comments follow the death of 17-year-old Regane MacColl at Glasgow's Arches nightclub.

She died in the early hours of Sunday February 2 after becoming ill while inside the club.

Police believe her death could be linked to red "mortal kombat" ecstasy tablets.

Mr Pearson, who is now a Labour MSP, said: "People have a perception that drugs obtained in these circumstances are deemed to be safe.

"The events at the Arches show that not to be the case.

"Young people, who take ecstasy or legal highs, think the tablets are safer than drugs like heroin or cocaine.

"However, that is simply not the case.

"If someone offers you a tablet, they'll tell you it is ecstasy or a legal high.

"But the reality is, you really don't know what you're taking."

Mr Pearson said: "Nightclubs could have their own phone line and this would allow people to pass on information about their concerns.

"While you may get a lot of dumb messages left, one serious message would make it worthwhile.

"Once club management have the information, they can use CCTV, or security staff, to try and target the problem.

"They can also bring in the police to deal with it."

Police have also issued a warning about 'pink Superman' pills, which contain paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA) - an ecstasy-like substance which has been linked to a number of deaths.

The deaths of seven young Scots last summer were linked to a 'green Rolex' type pill, which had been sold as ecstasy.

Mr Pearson believes greater use of CCTV - in and around venues -while police "maintain pressure" at club level, will help combat the problem.

He said: "Police must enforce against all drugs - legal or otherwise."

Police Scotland's senior officers have vowed to continue to tackle those involved in drug dealing.

Chief Inspector Alan Porte, said: "Officers in Glasgow city centre are absolutely dedicated to reducing the availability of illegal drugs.

"We will continue to work to ensure people are safe and lives are not put at risk."

There are hundreds of so-called "legal highs" which can be easily obtained from websites.

A gramme of the chemicals, which can cost as little as £25, is then mailed to the buyer - with no legal consequences.

It is illegal to sell or advertise so-called legal highs as a mood-altering substance.

However, suppliers use descriptions such as "plant foods" and "fertiliser" to get around the law.

Mr Pearson, a former assistant chief constable with Strathclyde Police, believes a more linked-up approach to these "legal-highs" will help in the fight against them.

He said: "By linking up with other European countries, we can see what drugs and substances are moving towards Scotland.

"There needs to be more testing of these unknown drugs, so we know what we are dealing with.

"We need to know what drugs are coming to Scotland next."

rebecca.gray@ eveningtimes.co.uk