Firms' worries over staff taking drugs as mephedrone use grows


The use of mephedrone has grown in Wales

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One in three employers in Wales would not know how to tell if a worker was under the influence of recreational drugs, a survey has found.

The findings come amid growing concern about the level of new-style drugs such as mephedrone in Welsh communities.

Former senior serious crimes officer Martin Tavener said: "This drug is so prevalent and so easy to get hold of."

A conference on Thursday is to offer employers solutions to substance misuse by workers.

Home Office figures show that about one in three 16 to 24-year-olds use drugs.

Start Quote

There are quite a lot of companies where we have done tests and they've been shocked to find out how much of a problem it is”

End Quote Dr Philip Kindred Synergy Health

The survey by the Cardiff-based marketing and research group RMG found that of the 200 businesses questioned, around 80% had a zero tolerance policy of workers being under the influence of recreational drugs when at work.

But in practice a third said they did not know how to tell when a worker was under the influence.

Commissioned by Synergy Health, which has laboratories in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, the survey found that a similar proportion of firms said they were worried that drug taking outside work could affect safety and performance at work.

Very few however supported drug testing at work.

Dr Philip Kindred, from Synergy Health, said such testing would expect to find up to 10% of a workforce had taken drugs ranging from cannabis to cocaine and the abuse of prescription drugs.

He said: "There are quite a lot of companies where we have done tests and they've been shocked to find out how much of a problem it is.

Case study - an office worker

BBC Wales spoke to a man in his 20s from the south Wales valleys, who now works in London

"I enjoy myself potentially more safely than a lot of drinkers do on a weekend. If that means I'm talking illegal drugs, that's just it, really.

"The drugs could still be in my system but the most effect I have is the tiredness and lack of sleep which, if I spent a night out drinking, I would be feeling pretty much the same on Monday morning when I go into work.

"I would be a little concerned about my boss knowing but where do you draw the line? Somebody's boss somewhere is probably doing drugs."

BBC Wales questioned the worker about being involved in an illegal activity.

"I could argue that it doesn't really affect my work and what I do outside of work, within reason, is none of his [employer's] business if it doesn't affect my performance."

"We have been to some companies and we've started doing testing and we've been told to stop doing it halfway through the day because they've come up with so many positives.

"It's only when they do the testing that they find out they have a problem."

A report earlier this year from the police regional intelligence unit for the Gwent, South Wales and Dyfed-Powys police areas highlighted the increase in the use of mephedrone in Wales.

It reported that the number of offences involving the drug in Wales had nearly doubled between April and December 2011 and the same period last year.

Mr Tavener, a former head of the regional intelligence unit, said: "It's very difficult for employers to know what [staff] do or control what they do.

"Drug treatment agencies will tell you that new psychoactive substances combined with alcohol are a very dangerous cocktail providing a lot of problems for them.

"Undoubtedly people are turning up in the workplace and performing poorly and they could be jeopardising their colleagues' safety, especially in safety-critical industries.

Det Ch Insp Martin Tavener has just retired as head of the regional crime unit and spoke about mephedrone

"My real concern is the fact that [these drugs] are so easily available now.

"We're seeing [people in] all sorts of occupations - manual workers right through to people who work in offices - coming before the police and seeking help from drug treatment agencies."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    I've always found it kind of gross and disturbing that employers in the US demand your bodily fluids before starting a job, I want to keep them where they belong!
    This is what happens when employers have more rights than employees, and I'm sure there's some misleadingly-named think tanks ready to try and start forcing it on us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    @20. Seriously
    Go tell Jeremy Clarkson that speeding is illegal ;)

    and that driving is more dangerous than weed, yet the BBC is allowed to promote driving fast and stupidly and put it forward as a recreation activity. same with drinking alcohol.

    Hypocrisy is the problem I think. ;) What do you think it is?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    The drug culture in South Wales is a joke. Police openly do not care. Saw 5 boys the other day snorting in an alley at about 2pm, police went passed, looked down and carried on. I'm genuinly not lying. Bouncers on nights out join in with drug taking in the toilets rather than stop it. You can literally do what you want on a Saturday night. I can guarantee the stuff they take is 0.01% pure aswell.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.


    Not entierly certain I'd agree with the all the staement about doctors. On the whole if you're ill they know how to treat you. But especially with mental health issues they are handcufted by narrow-minded laws. I myself am a person who occasionally struggles with depression and weed helps me more than any prescription I know, and I'm not the only one of my friends who this works for

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Drugs are not cool & never will be.
    @13 - what's the problem?... that it's illegal, is that good enough?

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    If your performance is such that your employer can't tell that you are on drugs ... what's the problem?

    This is another problem that doesn't need solving.

    I have the impression that our overlords are so furious that we aren't going to war in Syria, they are now going to make us pay for every other stupid thing they can think of. They clearly put a lot of money aside for that war.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    @16. WeirdAlex
    Because we all know that somewhere in the BBC, someone is stoned, another person is buzzing, and some are chilling out. :)

    Everyone ever class every kind of person, we all do drugs. That your dealer has a degree is the only difference that I can see, doctors are really little more than dealers who think they are educated and think following governments rules is how to help people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    I enjoy a good hit of Oxidane every now and then. I feel I work better with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.


    From th comments so far it doesn't seem to be working. I wonder why?

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Why have they opened this up to HYS after prematurely closing this one?

    It's seem's likely that the conversation will just be a continuation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    If the 'drug use' is recreational and outside of working hours what is the problem? It's when companies take the line of drug tests that work life starts dictating to what we spend our time doing out of work and that is what makes me uncomfortable.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    If you can't tell the difference then where the hell is the problem?

    If you suck at your job you should get into trouble whether that's because you're drunk, stoned, high or just don't give a cr*p. If you're using drugs but it's not impacting your work then it's nobodies business but yours.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    They do know when people go out for a 'sociable drink' at lunch but thats all dandy and acceptable.

    There's no mention of this though, nor the cost to the NHS / A+E depts or resulting sick days from hangovers.

    Adrress the huge problem , not the small one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    As long as the day job gets done, what's the harm?

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    :) retarded fear mongering of drugs is not the way to deal with them or to help anyone using them in an abusive way.

    Plz BBC, show some kind of balance and sanity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    From the article:
    "It's only when they do the testing that they find out they have a problem."

    Well if they're staff are performing as expected and they would be none the wiser if they didn't test them, is it really a problem?

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    I once sent a drunk student home from class, pointing out to her that had it been me who'd turned up in that state I would have lost my job on the spot.

    She spent the rest of the term apologising every time she saw me & never turned up the worse for wear again!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    What about employees tanked up on temazepam and diazepam, or physcosis medication, are prescribed drugs ok ? And what about the legal high drugs ?

    It's no good closing one door and leaving several other doors open.


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