Postmen are delivering illegal drugs around the UK without knowing, an investigation has found.
Drug users are buying substances over the dark web, which are then being delivered to them by the postal service. It is against Royal Mail’s rules to send controlled drugs by post but it is claimed that many items make it through the network without the knowledge of the organisation’s workers.
An investigation by Radio 1 Newsbeat saw journalists buying MDMA, cannabis and Spice, a new psychoactive substance, over the dark web using software hide their true identity. The drugs then arrived through the postal service around a week later to a PO Box and Newsbeat gave them to a government-approved laboratory to be tested and destroyed.
There are concerns that this method may make it easier for users to get hold of drugs, which may make them more likely to experiment with more dangerous substances. The Home Office is investing £1.9 million into looking at the ways criminal networks are using advancing technology.
Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who is chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, told Newsbeat that the committee was investigating how the police were working with other organisations including the postal service and customs to combat the problem.
She said: “We need to know there’s a proper approach to enforcement taking place.”
Royal Mail told Newsbeat that it carried out random checks on parcels to try and prevent illegal items being sent by post.
A Royal Mail spokesman said: “Where Royal Mail has any suspicion that illegal items are being sent through our system, we work closely with the police and other authorities including the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to assist their investigations and to prevent such activities from happening.”
Users may experiment with new substances
Information from the Global Drug Survey seems to indicate that buying drugs over the dark web is encouraging users to try out different substances.
Dr Adam Winstock, an addiction medicine specialist and founder of the GDS, said: “About a third of people said they’d broaden their drug-using repertoire.”
But he said that some countries were managing to clamp down on drugs being sent by post. In New Zealand only two per cent of those taking part in the GDS said they had bought illegal substances over the dark net.
He said: “The reason people don’t go shopping on the dark net in New Zealand is because there’s really good co-operation between the police and the postal services and their borders are unbelievably good.”
If you are concerned that someone you love may be abusing drugs, one way of finding out for certain is to ask them to take a drugs test. A urine or blood test will be able to tell you whether they have consumed any illegal substances recently, while a hair drugs test will be able to look at their history of substance misuse over the last few months.