Pubdate: Fri, 23 May 2008
Source: Argus, The (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Newsquest Media Group
HUGE PUBLIC COCAINE USE REVEALED
An Argus investigation today uncovers the shocking extent of class A
drug use in some of Sussex's busiest public buildings.
Our study has revealed cocaine is being flagrantly used in court
houses, town halls, universities, a museum and even Brighton and
Hove's busiest library.
Drug testing kits, similar to those used by the American police, show
junkies are hiding in public toilets to prepare their fix.
Last night drug consultants warned that cocaine use was on the rise -
and said even teenagers were becoming addicted to the deadly white
Of the 17 court houses, council run building, further education
buildings and Government offices tested, only two did not contain
samples of the killer drug.
Brighton Kemptown MP Des Turner said: "It is not a happy finding. It
shows just how worryingly widespread cocaine is.
And Chief Inspector Dick Coates, of Sussex Police, admitted: "Drug
use in society as a whole is a problem."
Cocaine use in Sussex reaches far beyond bars and clubs and into the
area's town halls, libraries, law courts, hospitals and museums.
An investigation by The Argus reveals more than 90% of public toilets
tested are being used to prepare and snort cocaine.
Positive results were found in five courts, four town halls, two
hospitals, at both of Brighton's universities, a library and museum.
Last night MPs called for on the authorities to take greater action
to prevent drug users taking the Class A substance in public.
Drug experts also warned that greater availability meant that cocaine
powder use is on the up - and that younger people are becoming addicted.
The test swabs used by our reporter turn blue in the presence of
The areas tested were always flat surfaces within toilet cubicles,
where people might prepare and take cocaine.
Dr Richard Bowskill, the lead consultant at the Priory Hospital in
New Church Road, Hove, which helps addicts recover, said: "My
impression is that cocaine misuse is increasing.
"It is becoming more widely available and people are starting to use
cocaine at an earlier age than they were ten years ago.
"In the past people were either drug addicts or alcoholics but now
there is a crossover between the two. Often people are both.
"Often people take cocaine first because it will allow them to drink
more alcohol but it produces a harmful chemical in their body worse
"Cocaine has a more refined image than other drugs, such as
amphetamines or LsD, because it is seen to be taken by glamorous
celebrities. But the more accepted it is the more people are taking
it who are susceptible to developing problems or addictions."
The Argus tested magistrates' court toilets in Brighton, Eastbourne,
Lewes and Worthing. Lewes Crown Court toilets was also swabbed. Each
came back positive.
Traces of cocaine were also found at the Royal Sussex County Hospital
and at Eastbourne District General Hospital.
Positive results were also found at town halls in Eastbourne, Hove
and Worthing, at Brighton's Jubilee Library and jobcentre and at
Worthing Museum and Art Gallery.
Evidence of cocaine use was also apparent in the toilets at the
University of Sussex and the University of Brighton.
Of the 17 venues tested, only Crawley Magistrates' Court and City
College Brighton and Hove did not reveal traces of cocaine.
MPs last night spoke of their shock at learning of the widespread
cocaine use and called for the authorities to take action to protect
their premises from drug takers.
Eastbourne MP Nigel Waterson said: "This is truly appalling and shows
the prevalence of hard drugtaking in our area. It is a very
lamentable state of affairs. I would call on the borough council, the
health authorities and the court system to take strong measures to
police their own premises."
Brighton Pavilion MP David Lepper said: "I would certainly have hoped
court houses and town halls would have measures in place to prevent
"It's a disturbing sign of the prevalence of the use of cocaine and a
sign of the need to keep up the education campaigns about the dangers
"Also, these are public buildings and we want to make sure people are
free to use them without feeling they are going to come across people
Brighton Kemptown MP Des Turner added: "It shows just how worryingly
widespread cocaine is.
"It is not a happy finding. People seem to think cocaine has become
socially acceptable because of celebrities using it but that is not
Cocaine is a stimulant which can be smoked for an immediate strong
effect, or sniffed.
People taking it feel more awake and confident. It raises the body's
temperature, makes the heart beat faster and helps stave off feelings
The Argus contacted Brighton and Hove City Council, which runs Hove
Town Hall and the Jubilee Library, Eastbourne Borough Council, which
runs Eastbourne Town Hall, and Worthing Borough Council, which runs
Worthing Town Hall and the Museum and Art Gallery.
We also spoke to Crawley Borough Council, which runs Crawley town
hall, the Department for Work and Pensions, which runs the jobcentre,
the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton and both East
Sussex and Brighton hospital trusts.
Officials from each of the premises which tested positive said they
did not condone the use of the drug and said their toilets were
regularly monitored and cleaned.
Some also said that they were not able to monitor who uses their
After positive tests in five court buildings, a spokesman for the
Courts Service said: "Security checks are carried out at courts
across the country to safeguard public safety and to prevent illegal
activity taking place on the premises.
"At all Sussex courts, all public areas, including the public
toilets, are patrolled regularly."
Chief Inspector Dick Coates, Sussex Police's district commander in
Eastbourne, said: "There is a wide range of society using drugs
recreationally, not just those you would normally associate with it.
"But I don't think it is any worse in East Sussex than anywhere else."