Test workers for drugs, says police chief
Sack employees if they fail checks and won't get help, demands Metropolitan Police head
MILLIONS of workers should be tested at their offices and workplaces for illegal drug use to help reduce the demand for banned narcotics, says the head of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe. Employers would not need to turn informant and alert police if the tests revealed an employee was using drugs, he went on. But anyone who failed a test and refused help to "get clean", should be sacked.
In a speech to the all-party parliamentary group on cannabis and children, he said the police crackdown on drug dealers needed to be matched by efforts to cut the demand for drugs.
Hogan-Howe said something needed to be "planted in people's minds" to make them think twice about using drugs. All workers should face tests, but occupations such as teaching, intensive care nursing and transport should come under extra scrutiny because it is vital that workers in these areas are "drug free", he urged.
The Daily Mail said the proposal was certain to trigger "howls of outrage" from trade unions and civil liberties campaigners. But it points out that drug testing in the workplace is "already prevalent and widely accepted" in the US in sectors including retail, finance, manufacturing, education and health.
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner's remarks received little support on social media sites today. Remarks ranged from "idiotic" to "impractical" and "maybe he should start with the police".
Andy Tutte, a former drug user who now runs programmes to help users get clean, told BBC Radio 5 Live the use of cannabis and cocaine was a "major issue", but "we need to be very careful before we introduce anything like this. The most important thing … is support and treatment."
Hogan-Howe said parents born in the Sixties and Seventies — when cannabis was weaker — were "failing to warn their children about the dangers of 'super-strength' skunk", the Daily Telegraph reports. When Hogan-Howe was chief constable of Merseyside he was "credited with adopting a zero-tolerance approach" known as "total policing", which included a crackdown on drug dealers.