In what is arguably the opposite of a hunger strike, a man arrested in the UK on January 17 and suspected of “concealing illicit substances inside his body” has reportedly refused to use the toilet ever since.
I spent a couple of minutes trying to resist writing that “this is not going to come out well for him,” but then I gave up.
The BBC’s report is blessedly short of details on the concealment, which I don’t think are really necessary. Essex police did say that the man is a suspected gang member and drug dealer, that he has been charged with two counts of “possession with intent to supply class A drugs”—though I’m a little unclear on how this could be two counts—and that he is receiving frequent medical assessments, hopefully more frequent as time goes on. They also said the man is under “constant supervision,” which has to be among the worst possible assignments for whatever rookie officer has that job.
Twenty days sure seems like a long time to go on toilet strike, but according to the report a police spokeswoman said the record (at least in the Criminal-Suspect Division of the league) was “believed to be 23 days.”
I refuse to research what the record is for humanity as a whole, but the three-week range is fairly consistent with the 2011 case of Babatunde Omidina, better known (to Nigerians) as “Baba Suwe,” who was accused of a similar crime after passing through an airport scanner. See “Accused Celebrity Smuggler Cleared After 25 ‘Closely Monitored’ Bowel Movements” (Nov. 9, 2011). No, I don’t know what kind of scanner they were using there, and please don’t give the TSA any ideas. Omidina was not on toilet strike in that case, by any means, and the strangeness there was in the authorities’ apparent belief that if they just waited long enough, the evidence would evidentially show itself. In fact, they monitored his movements for no fewer than 24 days before finally giving up. But that roughly three-week time period may just be coincidence, because a doctor said in Omidina’s case that any drug packages should have appeared by the first week or so. Again, I’m not looking up the facts on this one.
Essex police said they were publicizing the case on social media in order to “challenge the idea that gang membership or dealing in drugs was in some way ‘glamorous.'” It does seem to do that.
If that was part of the plan in Omidina’s case, it very much backfired—given his celebrity, as one source put it, “his bowel movements were earnestly followed by authorities and the media” (sample headline: “Baba Suwe Excretes Again”), but then he was fully vindicated. Essex police seem very unlikely to be embarrassed in that way, however.
While I’m opposed to the “War on Drugs,” at least the police in Essex are waging this particular battle just by being patient. As I’ve pointed out before, more aggressive investigations along these lines are nothing short of appalling. See, e.g., “New Mexico Colon-Invasion Case Settles for $1.6 Million” (Jan. 16, 2014) (linking to earlier posts heaping scorn on police in Deming, New Mexico).