break the link between drugs and crime has announced by home
office drugs minister Bob Ainsworth.
Nottingham and Staffordshire, is being extended to six further areas:
Bedford in Bedfordshire
Blackpool in Lancashire
Doncaster in South Yorkshire
Torquay in Devon and Cornwall
Wirral in Merseyside
Wrexham and Mold in North Wales
The tests, for offenders charged with drug-related or theft offences,
will ensure that problematic drug users are identified early and
offered appropriate treatment.
Announcing the new pilots at the Royal College of General
Practitioners' national conference yesterday, Mr Ainsworth said:
'Overall crime is falling but Class A drug misuse continues to fuel a
significant amount of property crime. We have to break this vicious
cycle between drug dependency and crime.
'The drug testing schemes will identify problematic drug misusers
early and help them into treatment. In this way the user will benefit
from a real chance to re-build their lives, the community will
benefit from a reduction in drug-related crime and the dealers will
have one less customer.
'We have already seen how mandatory drug testing in prisons has
helped to reduce the number of positive drug tests, down from 24.4%
in 1996/97 to 12.4% in 2000/01.'
Under the drug testing initiative offenders will have to provide
saliva samples. Those who test positive will be offered the
opportunity to enter treatment, and the test results will be used by
courts to assist with bail decisions and whether treatment should be
part of an offenders' community sentence.
Drug testing will not take place until a person is charged and will
only be limited to identifying heroin and crack/cocaine use. Home
Office research has shown that there is clear evidence that Class A
drugs - particularly heroin and cocaine - are driving a large amount
Interventions on behalf of the problem drug user can have a positive
effect in reducing drug-related crime. An evaluation of the pilot
arrest referral schemes found that:
- one in two offenders were no longer using illegal opiates or
stimulants six to eight months after referral; and
- average drug expenditure fell from£400 per week to£70 per week,
with corresponding reductions in crime to help finance drug misuse.
1. Home Office research has shown that there is clear evidence that
Class A drugs - particularly heroin and cocaine - are driving a
significant amount of property crime. The developmental stage of the
New English and Welsh Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Programme
- 69 per cent of arrestees tested positive for an illegal drug, with
nearly one in three testing positive for heroin and 20 per cent
testing positive for cocaine;
- 42 per cent of those who reported drug use and committing
acquisitive crime in the last year said their drug taking was
connected to their offending, with nearly half of these reporting
income from property crime and a fifth from drug dealing; and
- Arrestees using both heroin and also cocaine or crack represented
one quarter of all arrestees but were responsible for more than
half of the illegal income reported. This group reported an average
annual illegal income of nearly£13,000 a year.
2. It will be an offence to refuse to provide a sample, punishable by
up to three months in prison or a fine of up to£2,500 or a
combination of both.
3. The Forensic Science Service evaluated the viability of using oral
fluid technology as an alternative to testing devices using urine
samples. Results showed that:
- Oral fluid technology was an effective and accurate alternative to
urine for drug screening for heroin and crack/cocaine;
- The use of oral fluids is less invasive and does not compromise
- Oral fluid testing reduces health and safety risks for staff
carrying out the test;
- Provides the opportunity to have an immediate drug test result, in
a face to face situation;
- The new technology minimises manpower requirements and additional
time in custody for the arrestee;
- Makes adulteration of the sample more difficult than it is for
- Oral fluids have the potential to replace urine testing in the
5. Oral fluid testing will be by means of a swab, which is inserted
into the mouth to absorb a certain amount of oral fluid. The sample
can be forwarded to a lab for screening or tested in-situ. A
sufficient amount needs to be collected to allow for a secondary
laboratory confirmatory test. The kit tests for heroin, crack and
cocaine in a single application. The results are read and stored
6. The first interim evaluation report, summarising the emerging
learning from the implementation of drug testing in Hackney,
Staffordshire and Nottingham, will be published in late May 2002.