Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said affluent workers were fuelling the £1 billion market in the Class A narcotic.

He said many of these people worked in professions where drug use could put other people's lives at risk and in such cases employers should consider introducing regular drug testing as a condition of employment.

Mr Hogan-Howe said anyone testing positive for drug use could then be offered the opportunity to change their lifestyle or get the sack.

He said this would have a major impact on the booming use of cocaine among the middle classes in Britain.

In a speech to the Policy Exchange think tank in London, Mr Hogan-Howe said employers would have little idea how many drug users were among their workers.

Mr Hogan-Howe said: "What could you do if you started some kind of sobriety testing in employment? Not to tell the police but as an issue of employment."

He added that if the results came back as positive, workers could be told: "You have got a choice, you either change what you are doing because I don't want you working for me anymore."

Two years ago the Government's chief drugs adviser criticised the middle class conception that cocaine was a safe drug.

Professor Les Iversen said a perception had grown that only down and outs taking crack cocaine were putting their lives in danger.

But he warned that the Class A drug was one of the most addictive substances known to man and was certainly not safe.

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