A Tory mayoral candidate has been branded “clueless” after suggesting companies should bring in random drugs tests for their employees.
Shaun Bailey – who hopes to unseat Labour’s Sadiq Khan in London – called for every business in the capital with more than 250 employees to sign up to a drug-testing charter – and make the results public.
Mr Bailey said this would help to identify middle class cocaine users, who are fuelling the “explosion” of crime among poorer communities by purchasing drugs from criminals.
But Dragon’s Den judge Theo Paphitis, who heads Ryman and Robert Dyas, has said it is completely unworkable.
Mr Paphitis told LBC that while he welcomed the move to tackle drug use, the approach was “clueless”.
He said: “The only people who are going to be punished are the companies and why are you punishing the companies when they’ve had nothing to do with it?
“So that in itself is a crackpot idea.”
In an open letter addressed to London’s business leaders, Mr Bailey 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.”
Mr Bailey, 49, who grew up in a council house in Ladbroke Grove, west London, was a youth worker with gang members for 20 years.
“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.”
After he shared his idea, Enfield Green Party posted on Twitter : “This is folly. We have been fighting a war on drugs for 90 years and it has not and cannot be won. It’s time to minimise harm by legalising and regulating supply.”