Since being appointed to the post of Home Secretary, Priti Patel has made her distaste for drugs clear. During the past two years the Witham MP has accompanied police on house raids, deported foreign dealers, declared war on 'county lines' gangs and threatened 'tough action' on laughing gas.
There have been repeated departmental briefings to newspapers about crackdowns on 'middle class drug-users,' with Patel herself telling broadcasters that 'there's no such thing as dabbling in drugs, these are serious offences' – a statement which presumably caused some discomfort among certain ministerial colleagues.
Her rapturously received address to the Tory faithful on Tuesday highlighted the Home Office's anti-drugs crusade once again. Patel railed against narcotics for being 'responsible for the crimes I am committed to cutting,' claiming that 'while Sir Keir Starmer backs calls to decriminalise drugs, we will take the tough decisions needed to build back safer' as 'our values embody service before self.'
She announced that the Home Office will expand drug-testing on arrest for all 43 police forces across England and Wales, with those 'unwilling to address their drug misuse' facing 'the harshest possible legal sanctions and consequences.' In an interview with the Daily Telegraph Patel added that there was 'no question' the UK's middle class were too laissez faire in their attitude to drugs.
— Priti Patel (@pritipatel) September 23, 2021
Drugs devastate lives. They ruin communities and tear families apart.Under @Keir_Starmer, @UKLabour is weak on crime and weak on the causes of crime. https://t.co/JctMGIohZR
But now it transpires that staff within the Home Office are no angels themselves when it comes to drugs. Multiple members of the department have been dismissed in cases where drugs was a factor since Patel took over at the department in July 2019, according to a Freedom of Information request.
The department has refused to reveal the exact figure on the grounds of 'privacy' but confirmed to Mr S that the figure was a multiple between one to four cases. A Home Office spokesman added: 'We will investigate any allegations of misconduct involving drugs by employees and anyone found to have breached the rules will face robust disciplinary action.”
If Priti really wants to crackdown on 'middle class drug-users' perhaps she should look closer to home.