A human rights group is advising attendees of next week’s Brighton Gay Pride how to deal with police who may ask to conduct a voluntary drug test.

Sussex Police will be using the Ion Track device, which detects small traces of illegal substances, at the event, but the Release group fears lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender revellers will be unfairly targeted.

Releases’ Amber Marks said: “Chief Inspector Lawrence Hobbs has assured Release that scans will not be used as a condition of entry and the police will only seek to scan those they already have reasonable grounds to search.

“There are concerns that the equipment has not always been used in this manner and may not always be used in strict accordance with the law.”

She cast doubts over the legality of the equipment, “This has yet to be determined by a UK court. There are doubts as to whether a positive reading on the device is capable of providing reasonable grounds of suspicion owing to the over-sensitivity of the equipment.”

She added, “If you are stopped and asked for your consent to a scan, ask whether they have reasonable grounds to search, detain or arrest you.

“If they say they don’t, politely inform them that you do not wish to be detained by their enquiries, you value your civil liberties and understand you are under no obligation to assist them further.”

A police spokesman told The Argus, “Sussex Police wants everybody visiting Pride 2006 to have a safe and fun time. Our drugs testing policy isn’t designed to catch anyone out or stitch them up.”

Brighton Pride runs from the July 29 2006 August 6 2006.