A well-known British newspaper published a report on Sunday, Dec. 5, claiming that in 11 of the 12 toilets in the Westminster building, traces of cocaine were found, including in the toilets near the office of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel.
The report made by The Sunday Times, which although it does not clearly state who performed the tests, explains that drug detection wipes were used and tested positive in 11 of the 12 toilets in the British Parliament building, some of which are only accessible with the press, legislator and permanent staff passes.
Among the toilet locations where traces of cocaine were found in Westminster include three toilets in Portcullis House, one near the press gallery, those near the Lords bar and the Strangers bar (which is for lawmakers, Parliamentary officials, and their staff and guests), and the men’s room behind the Speaker’s chair, Breitbart detailed.
Several of the Parliamentary staffers who spoke to the Times on condition of anonymity claimed that drug use there is an ‘open secret’ and that it is very common for “people, particularly MPs’ staff, who are messed up. You see them wandering the halls, with a glazed look, staggering about,” a somewhat scandalous revelation for a high institution such as the British Parliament.
“MPs tend to be more careful than staff and will go back to their office to do it rather than doing it in any of the public spaces, but I have heard of one staffer who walked in on their MP doing a late-night line at their desk” recalled one of the newspaper’s informants.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle, expressed his ‘deep concern’ about the report and said he involved Scotland Yard and the local police to investigate the fact and assured that he will “expect to see full and effective enforcement of the law.”
For his part, the chairman of the committee that runs Westminster, Charles Walker, mentioned the possibility of allowing the use of sniffer dogs inside the building to detect users, hinting at the seriousness of the matter.
“The House of Commons has a long history of using sniffer dogs to detect explosives,” Mr. Walker said. “It may be that we now need to broaden the range of sniffer dogs… to include those which can detect drugs.”
According to the BBC, the maximum penalty for possession of Class A drugs, including cocaine, is up to seven years in prison or an unlimited fine, or both.
However, both Hoyle and Johnson expressed their inclination to adopt a more ‘compassionate’ approach that embraces the option of ‘rehabilitation’ and not so much prison, a measure widely adopted by Democratic leaders in the United States that failed to meet the goal of reducing crime or reforming criminals.
“While Parliament provides extensive support services for any staff or Members who may need help with drug misuse—and I would encourage anyone struggling with such issues to take up such help—for those who choose to flout the law and bring the institution into disrepute the sanctions are serious,” Hoyle said.
“You can lock them up again and again and we do but they come out again and reoffend so we have got to rehabilitate them,” the British prime minister told The Sun newspaper when explaining his plan to tackle drugs abuse.
Johnson said he was looking at “new ways” of penalizing hard drug users: “Things that will actually interfere with their lives so we will look at taking away passports and driving licenses.”