Cocaine detected at Portsmouth baby change facilities and Portsmouth City Council toilets
COCAINE testing has found traces of the drug in baby change units in Portsmouth and at public toilet blocks.
The News used presumptive testing swabs to check eight facilities across the city, with all but one proving positive for the class A drug.
Baby change units in the grubby Guildhall Square toilet block and at Canoe Lake, in Southsea, both had traces of cocaine.
All but one facility tested proved positive – with Clarence Pier’s baby change free of the drug.
Swabs from the British company Crackdown Drug Testing Limited, used in the investigation, are soaked in cobalt thiocyanate.
They turn from pink to blue when in contact with cocaine, and can detect less than 0.5mg trace amounts.
It comes as calls were made to clean up Guildhall Square’s toilets as drug addicts are often seen in the cubicles for hours at a time.
Matt Foster, from Portsmouth-based The Parenting Network, said: ‘For any parent it’s worrying that you could be taking your child into those kinds of areas exposing them to surfaces which may be contaminated.
‘Most parents would generally wipe down any public changing areas because they’re aware that they may not be that clean.
‘The other area of concern is how we best support our addicts in our city.
‘We need to better support our addicts and by doing that we’re better supporting our children and adults.’
The investigation results found:
• Guildhall Square - positive at baby change.
• Canoe Lake park - positive at baby change.
• Clarence Pier toilets - negative at baby change.
• Central Library - positive at toilets.
• Baffins Pond - positive at toilets.
• Derby Road, North End - positive at toilets.
• Wootton Street, Cosham - positive at toilets.
• Drayton Park in Lower Drayton Road - positive at toilets.
Portsmouth City Council earmarked £380,000 in its annual budget for the provision of new toilets.
A council spokesman said: ‘We don't condone drug taking in any of our premises, and we work closely with police and drug misuse support services on this issue. All our toilets and changing facilities are checked and serviced daily.’
Many baby change rooms are locked and can only be accessed on demand if they are in manned buildings.
But the council said it was ‘not possible’ to roll this out to other places.
The spokesman added: ‘Any evidence of drug use is recorded. Areas where there are high levels of incidents, and issues related to drug use, are reported to the police and substance misuse services.’
Guildhall Square’s toilets were last subject to a deep clean in December when drug paraphernalia had been found.
The council funds the Recovery Hub for addicts to detox and access rehabilitation services. It also helps Re:Fit, with sport and leisure activities for people in recovery.
Police are tackling the supply of crack cocaine, which is crystalised powder cocaine cooked with baking soda.
It's highly addictive, can cost between £10 to £20 for a rock and gives an extreme high for around 20 minutes when smoked.
Home Office figures show 8.7 per cent of people aged 16-24 had taken a class A drug in the year before 2018/19.
This is up from the 6.7 per cent in 2011/12 - driven by an increase in use of powder cocaine and ecstasy.
The second most commonly used drug in people aged 16-59 was powder cocaine - with around 976,000 people using it.
Hampshire police chief constable Olivia Pinkney previously warned middle class cocaine users ‘destroy lives with drugs’ by supporting violent crimes.
Crack cocaine, different to the powdered form, is peddled by county lines gangs that have infiltrated every town in Hampshire.