Revealed: Leeds's drug shame - evidence found at key city landmarks

Leeds council bosses plan to review how they monitor public toilets in their buildings after a YEP investigation uncovered evidence of continued drug taking at some of the city's most famous sites.

Wednesday, 22nd March 2017, 10:54 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:03 am
YEP reporters John Blow and Georgina Morris with the results of the test carried out at Kirkgate Market.

Five years after we first shone a light on the issue by conducting drug tests at landmark public buildings, we returned to find out whether the situation had improved at all.

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YEP reporters John Blow and Georgina Morris with the results of the test carried out at Kirkgate Market.

Using swab testing kits provided by a company that supplies diagnostic healthcare products to the NHS, we revisited each of the buildings currently open to the public.

The tests suggest the problem has become more widespread as positive results were returned at six buildings, compared to four back in 2012.

Positive results were previously recorded at Civic Hall – Leeds City Council’s headquarters – as well as Leeds City Museum, Leeds Art Gallery and Kirkgate Market.

One of the drug testing wipes which turned blue after coming into contact with traces of cocaine.

The toilets at the gallery are currently closed due to an ongoing renovation, but the three other sites all returned positive results again when we visited them earlier this month.

Light pink wipes in the testing kit turned blue when rubbed over surfaces in the toilets at those buildings, indicating that they had come into contact with traces of cocaine.

The wipes also turned blue when tests were carried out at Leeds Town Hall, Leeds Bus Station and Leeds Crown Court.

YEP reporters John Blow and Georgina Morris with the results of the test carried out at Kirkgate Market.

A Leeds City Council spokeswoman said: “We are disappointed to see three of our buildings showing positive results as part of this YEP investigation.

“All the toilets in question are primarily used by the public, although those in the Civic Hall are also used by staff and others associated with the council.

“We will look again at current monitoring arrangements and do all that we can to prevent this happening in our buildings in the future.”

Rooms at Leeds Civic Hall are available for private hire and the building is heavily used, with bookings almost every day, most evenings and many weekends.

One of the drug testing wipes which turned blue after coming into contact with traces of cocaine.

The results point towards drug taking in several council-owned buildings, transport hubs and court buildings, although negative results were returned at Leeds Magistrates’ Court, Leeds Central Library and Leeds Railway Station. While police operations generally focus on licensed premises, the city’s police are also keen to hear from anyone with information about the distribution or taking of drugs in or near public buildings.

Inspector Andy Berriman, of the Leeds City Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We know only too well the devastating impact that substance abuse can have, often being the catalyst for other offending and the sale and use of drugs in Leeds is something we continue to work closely with partners to address.

“Many of the regular operations we run to tackle drug use are focussed around licensed premises as this is where the issue is often most prevalent. We work closely with partners and licensees to send out a clear message that drug use in the city’s night-time economy won’t be tolerated. We also continue to use a variety of tactics to build up intelligence around where illegal drugs and psychoactive substances are being sold and taken and will take firm action to catch those responsible and to deter others.”

Phone police via 101 or to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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