New Powers In Force: – Test On Arrest

From 1 December police will be allowed to test for drugs on arrest

The government introduced the new powers after consultation with the police and other agencies. The new powers aim to reduce drug-related crime by getting offenders into treatment.

The scheme will initially be targeted in areas with the highest drug-linked crime rates such as Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. The powers are likely to be expanded into other areas from 31 March 2006.

Key points of the powers:

  • Offenders will be tested for heroin, crack and cocaine on arrest for acquisitive crimes, such as robbery, burglary
  • Offenders who refuse the test could face a penalty fine of up to £2500 and/or three months in prison
  • Courts will be able to deny bail unless the offender agrees to a drug assessment
  • Anyone who tests positive will be assessed by drugs workers and allocated a programme of support or treatment

Howard Roberts, Deputy Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police and Vice – Chair of the ACPO Drugs Committee said:

“ACPO welcomes the introduction of drug testing on arrest. This will definitely aid the further diversion of even more drug mis-users into treatment. The Drugs Intervention Programme, supported by greater treatment capacity, has already made a marked difference in helping reduce drug fuelled crime.”

The Government also announced today that the Home Office is seeking the views of the police, courts and drugs agencies on the setting of particular thresholds for the possession of controlled drugs.

This is to clarify the point at which the quantity of drugs in a person’s possession becomes above and beyond that reasonably held for personal use, and so help the courts to differentiate between possession and intent to supply. The consultation will run until 3 March 2006.

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