Staff Call For Anonymous Tip-Off System After Drugs In Parliament Allegations
Parliamentary staff have criticised the lack of a confidential system to report MPs or colleagues who may be taking drugs on the estate.
One suggested they would feel “powerless” to act if they suspected someone was involved with illegal drugs in Westminster, while another said they’d worry for their job if they reported an MP to the police.
Last weekend The Sunday Times reported that traces of cocaine had been found in multiple locations across the parliamentary estate.
Common Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he was “deeply concerned” by the revelations and planned to discuss the issue with the Metropolitan Police this week.
"I expect to see full and effective enforcement of the law,'' he said in a statement.
"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."
Jenny Symmons, chair of the MP staff branch of the GMB Union, suggested an anonymous reporting system was needed due to the unique relationship between MPs and their employees.
“If you're a staffer and you're concerned about your boss taking drugs, I can't really think of who you would speak to. There's no referral system," she told PoliticsHome.
“They may just find a way to terminate your employment. That's a pretty impossible situation."
She said she backed calls from Conservative MP Charles Walker, who chairs the administration committee, for sniffer dogs to be used to deter drugs on the estate.
“Sniffer dogs are probably the best route and maybe the solution could be for people to be able to make anonymous reports to the parliamentary police who could then turn up with dogs.
Symmons added: “It would be better for investigations to be based on evidence found by sniffer dogs rather than reports from staff."
One Parliamentary staffer told PoliticsHome they would have “no idea” how to report their MP if they were concerned about potential drug use.
They added that introducing an anonymous tip-off line would be a “good idea” and thought the Commons speaker “should be on” the issue a lot more.
“There needs to be greater power for Parliamentary authorities to hold MPs to account with them basically being unsackable,” the staffer added.
Another suggested that staff should be signposted to existing services within Parliament if they wished to report suspicions of someone consuming drugs on the estate.
“If I wanted to report someone for doing drugs in Parliament I would feel comfortable calling the Parliamentary Security Team or the Police on 101,” they said.
“Politicians doing drugs doesn't really bother me as long as it doesn't affect their work."
A Parliamentary spokesperson said: “Parliament takes the issue of substance misuse very seriously, and should drug use be identified in Parliament, appropriate action would be taken.
“Any allegation of criminal behaviour would be a matter for the Metropolitan Police. It is important to stress that Parliament is a public place with facilities accessed by Members, staff, contractors, press, and members of the public.”
Figures released by the Metropolitan Police under freedom of information laws show there were 17 drug crimes in or near parliament in the past year, and police investigated 38 offences between 2015 and 2018.
A spokesperson for Parliament said that none of the arrests that had been reported took place on the estate.
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