Police must take random drug tests

POLICE IN Liverpool have been ordered to submit to random drug testing. The Merseyside force - the first in England and Wales to introduce such a scheme - began screening its 7,000 officers and staff last week.

The force has promised to deal with the use even of Class A drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, in a "supportive, not punitive" manner. Only officers caught in possession of illegal drugs will be dismissed.

Some employers, including London Underground, immediately dismiss employees who test positive for drugs.

A spokesman for Merseyside Police said the aim of the testing was to help officers come forward for counselling and rehabilitation.

Many other forces, including the Metropolitan Police, are expected to follow suit shortly.

The policy has been backed by the rank and file, represented by the Police Federation. "We are against all forms of drug taking and we have no serious concerns about testing officers," said a Federation spokesman.

Next month, the police's leading authority on drug testing, Andrew Timpson, Chief Constable of Warwickshire, will present recommendations to the Association of Chief Police Officers. "Drug testing is growing in industry generally and an increasing number of forces are looking at it as part of their welfare policies. We also cannot ignore the fact that for the younger generation drug use is a lifestyle thing," he said.

There is concern in police forces not only at the use of drugs such as cannabis, Ecstasy and cocaine, but also at the misuse of muscle-building steroids. The legal position is complicated because possession of steroids is not proscribed.

Merseyside Police were at the centre of a drugs scandal last year, when two officers were suspended in a crackdown on muscle-building drugs. Local drugs workers claimed that other officers were implicated but that the issue was covered up.

Merseyside Police refused to say whether there was a connection between the incident and the introduction of the new drug-testing policy, though its screenings will also test for steroids. Traditionally, officers with drug problems leave the force quietly. However, at least one of the officers suspended in the Merseyside steroid investigation is still at work.

The steroid phenomenon is driven by officers who feel they can enhance their physical presence. But steroid abusers risk numerous health problems, including kidney and liver disorders, heart disease and exposure to HIV through sharing needles. Coming off the drugs can cause acute depression and even suicidal thoughts.

Jobs on the line, page 6

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea