Companies across the Square Mile will be given extra help in tackling substance abuse – including misuse of cocaine – in a public health programme being launched by the City Corporation.
The authority is rolling out the scheme – which will run in tandem with the work of City Police officers – to help firms discourage drug use by employees.
A specialist consultant will this month begin a national and international review of existing models, studying the most successful and sustainable approaches to dealing with corporate substance misuse.
They will look at the most effective ways of supporting the Capital’s young employees and educating drug users on their personal and social responsibilities, including working closely with universities and the further education sector.
It comes as the Court of Common Council heard about the misery the drug trade causes. Councillor Dhruv Patel told peers: “Anecdotally, cocaine use is rife in the City. There is the City boy cocaine user stereotype which does only harm to our reputation.”
He asked what the authority was doing to help tackle the problem and cited police statistics that cocaine accounted for 82% of drug supply in the City, with users tending to work in finance or offices.
Chair of drug and alcohol charity Westminster Drugs Project, Yasmin Batliwala, says there is a “risk-taking culture” in the City.
She said: “People do work longer hours and the idea of people working hard and playing hard is actually very true. Recreational use of drugs like cocaine is certainly an issue”.
Councillor John Fletcher described the impact of the drug trade he has witnessed in Colombia.
He said: “We in the City of London understand markets better than anybody else. This market causes massive harm, damage, suffering and pain, and the market is caused by demand.”
He said the demand is created “by people who work in the City,” adding: “They must understand the users are as culpable as anybody else.”
Announcing the scheme, deputy policy chair Simon Duckworth said: “This important work will help to establish effective ways of tackling drug use in London’s firms.
“These plans are at an early stage. But our aim is to empower employees to drive positive change within their communities and in their businesses.
“Working with our partners we will support businesses across the Capital and beyond, reaching out to those who are facing similar complex challenges.”
He said it was essential to work across departments and understand the complex nature of the problem.
The City Corporation already runs a Public Health-funded scheme called Business Healthy, which enables City firms to provide workers with free health support.
The authority also commissions Westminster Drugs Project’s Square Mile Health – a drug and alcohol service which provides prevention, outreach and referral services.