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22 November 2013, 07:06 | Updated: 22 November 2013, 07:22
Suspects arrested for certain offences in Bury St Edmunds will now be drug tested in custody.
‘Drug Testing on Arrest’ (DTOA) was first piloted at the Martlesham Police Investigation Centre in August 2012 and following its success, the six-month pilot was extended until September this year.
The scheme launched in Bury St Edmunds on Monday and its aim is to identify users of Class ‘A’ drugs heroin and cocaine who commit crime to fund their habit. They do this by requesting a mouth swab from adults arrested or charged with any ‘trigger offence’ and checking it for the presence of these drugs.
‘Trigger offences’ are crimes often linked to substance abuse, such as, theft, burglary or handling stolen goods.
When an arrested person is tested, the results are known within two and a half minutes and a confirmation test can be requested if the result is disputed.
The initiative looks to prevent crime by breaking the cycle and stopping reoffending. It involves criminal justice and drug treatment providers working together with other services to provide a tailored solution for adults, particularly those who misuse Class A drugs who commit crime to fund their drug misuse.
Supt Jon Dodman said: "This scheme is an excellent example of pro-active work being undertaken to help us take measures to steer offenders away from drug use and therefore away from associated crime.
"A large number of offenders who regularly use drugs commit crime to fund their addiction. If we can intervene at the arrest stage, by testing them and directing them towards appropriate treatment, we are not only attempting to steer them away from this dangerous lifestyle, but we are also effectively removing a huge strain from public health and police resources.”
If the detainee test is positive, they are legally required to meet with someone from the Criminal Justice Integrated Team who helps them seek the drug treatment and support they need not to reoffend.
Over 1,900 detainees have been tested at the Martlesham Police Investigation Centre since August 2012, of which just over 450 have been confirmed positive, most of which have been referred for further assessment by The Westminster Drug Project.
Suffolk PCC Tim Passmore said:
"I fully support this drug testing on arrest initiative, which has proven to work well in Ipswich. Offenders testing positive for drugs are given the choice to opt for treatment and not face court. Once signed up to the treatment programme it is compulsory to attend otherwise the individual goes back into the criminal justice system. I fully support this carrot and stick approach, I want to see people given a second chance but not a third or fourth.”