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Tory candidate for London mayor wants firms to do random drug tests and publish results

Policy comes as Bailey languishes 23 points behind Labour incumbent in latest poll

Vincent Wood
Sunday 23 August 2020 17:44 BST
Shaun Bailey at Centre for Social Justice on 5 August 2020 Courtesy: Centre for Social Justice
Shaun Bailey at Centre for Social Justice on 5 August 2020 Courtesy: Centre for Social Justice (Centre for Social Justice)

The Conservative Party’s candidate for London mayor has said he will urge businesses to drug test workers and publish the results if he wins his way into City Hall in 2021.

Under Shaun Bailey’s proposal, laid out in an open letter, businesses in the capital with more than 250 employees would be urged to sign up to a drug-testing charter that would see them routinely test staff members for narcotics.

The results would then be published as part of a city-wide league table, Mr Bailey said.

The candidate, who previously served as a youth worker targeting gang culture, said he believed the measure would help tackle the use of drugs more commonly seen in middle-class circles – such as cocaine.

He wrote: “This is a huge problem. Drug use is not only a crime in itself; drug use is a direct cause of crime, from county lines gangs to stabbings on our streets.

“When people buy drugs, they are funding the criminals who traffic vulnerable kids and unleash mayhem on our streets.

“So as mayor, I’ll call for every business in London with over 250 employees to sign up to a drug testing charter.”

Current working rights mean companies are obliged to ask for consent from employees before testing them for narcotics – with the measure most often deployed in sectors with direct safety requirements like transport, energy and construction.

However, Mr Bailey said the policy would be designed to preserve the anonymity of workers, instead prompting culture change among big business in the capital.

“The purpose of this charter is not to get employees fired or shamed. Individual results will be anonymous,” he said.

“The purpose is to change our culture. City Hall will publish an annual league table showing which companies have the highest and lowest rates of drug use.

“Because the way to start tackling a problem is to shine a light on it.”

Liberal Democrat Siobhan Benita, who ended her bid for City Hall citing the financial difficulties of maintaining her run during the coronavirus pandemic, criticised the proposal as intrusive.

“What is it with Tories and invasion of privacy”, she wrote on Twitter. “Stop and search, facial recognition technology and now random drugs tests? To deliver safe streets, remove power from violent drugs gangs. Legalise, regulate and treat drug addiction as the health issue it is.”

It comes as the Conservative candidate attempts to drum up momentum for his campaign following reports in June that senior party figures had wanted him to be replaced due to consistent poor showings in the polls.

Mr Bailey has languished behind the Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan in public surveys throughout his bid for the mayoralty, a campaign that has been stretched out by the one-year postponement of the election due to the pandemic.

And despite attempts to focus attentions on the incumbent’s record on crime, as well as delays to the Crossrail transport project, latest polling figures from Redfield Wilton put Mr Khan ahead with 49 per cent support compared to the Mr Bailey’s 26 per cent

Additional reporting by agencies

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