Norfolk Police starts drug testing on arrest in a bid to reduce crime
Offenders in Norfolk could be subject to drug testing in custody in a bid to identify users and reduce crime.
Targeted Drug Testing on Arrest began at Great Yarmouth Police Investigation Centre in November and has now been rolled out across the rest of the county.
The initiative involves Norfolk Police and Public Health Norfolk’s drug and alcohol support service, Change Grow Live, working together to provide a tailored solution for adults, particularly those who misuse Class A crack cocaine and heroin and commit crime to fund their addiction.
Anyone arrested for offences that research has shown to be linked with the use of Class A crack cocaine and heroin, such as theft, burglary and handling stolen goods, will be tested for drugs.
The police have the power to request a mouth swab to test adults once arrested for any of these ‘trigger’ offences – or from anyone where a police officer of at least Inspector rank authorises the test if there are reasonable grounds to suspect the misuse of crack cocaine and heroin has caused or contributed to an offence.
The result of the test is known within three minutes and a confirmation test can be requested with the results being known in five days.
Where the test is positive, the detainee will be legally required to attend a Required Assessment with a Drug Intervention Worker, commissioned through Change, Grow, Live, who will then work with them to seek treatment and support. Failure to take the drug test without good cause, or failure to attend the Required Assessment, is a criminal offence.
Chief Inspector Lou Provart said: “Norfolk Police has been committed to targeting the Class A drug supply market over the past three years under Operation Gravity; however, in order to break the cycle of drug misuse and offending behaviour we need to target the demand.
“By identifying drug users and moving them into appropriate treatment we will not only steer them away from a dangerous lifestyle, but we will hopefully see a reduction in crime, make it more difficult for drug dealers trying to operate in Norfolk and effectively remove a huge strain from police and public health resources.”
Ed Shorter, Director at Change Grow Live added, “With the right interventions and support, we know that people can change harmful and destructive patterns of behaviour associated with drug misuse. Working together with Norfolk Police, this collaboration has been designed to help people across Norfolk address the root causes of their offending behaviour and live better lives. This in turn will have a significant positive impact on the wider Norfolk community’.
Lorne Green, Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Hopefully the introduction of such a scheme will help lead to a reduction in drug-related crime in the county while offering vulnerable members of society the support they need to break the vicious cycle they find themselves in.
“Drug users can become entrenched in offending behaviour, impacting on their families and the wider community, and it is crucial they are able to access help to address the causes and consequences of what they are doing.
“I will monitor the success of the programme with interest. If drug users choose to truly engage with the project, they could truly be helped to turn their lives around.”