Durham Constabulary supported by innovative Dräger drug test

An innovative ‘Drug Test on Arrest’ initiative is paving the way to meet Durham Constabulary’s future drug rehabilitation and crime cutting goals.   

The initiative – the first if its kind in the UK – involves screening for up to eight different types of controlled substances using international safety and medical technology provider Dräger’s Home Office approved DrugTest 5000. It aims to get people addicted to drugs into the right kind of treatment for their needs, at the earliest possible stage – and the force hopes its success to date will encourage other UK police forces to adopt similar schemes.

Since it launched in autumn last year, almost 740 tests have now been carried out.

‘Test on Arrest’ initiatives are carried out around the country yet currently only cocaine and opiates require mandatory testing, even though results from Durham Constabulary demonstrate many cases fall outside these two substances. Users are also regularly testing positive for other drugs such as cannabis, opiates and amphetamines, highlighting the link between other types of drug and crime.

Drug addiction is also one of the main causes of ‘volume crime’ such as thefts from vehicles, sheds, shoplifting and burglaries in the region and Durham Constabulary is using the scheme to help drug users receive swifter access to treatment, ultimately reducing crime.  

The force is now able to utilise the data captured in order to pinpoint the type of drug used, the location it is being used in and the associated crime – supporting intelligent police efforts to cut down drugs-related crime in County Durham.

Detective Inspector Andy Crowe, from Durham Police, said: “Drug addiction is the prime cause of many types of crime affecting our region and it’s important we tackle it at the earliest possible stage to support longer term reductions in crime.

“We’re looking at the bigger picture and approaching every individual case from the perspective of ‘what did they do’ and ‘why did they do this’. The Dräger DrugTest 5000 enables us to look at the individual circumstances behind each crime and offer people suffering from drug addiction, in whatever form, the chance to take a different path and recover away from a life in the criminal justice system.”

A positive result at the point of arrest means the person involved is subsequently required to attend appointments with drug treatment staff, which can be tailored to their needs. It aims to steer users away from crime towards health-based rehabilitation for their addiction.

After the success of the pilot programme, Dräger is now calling on police forces around the country to adopt similar practices. As the Dräger DrugTest 5000 has Home Office type approval for use in both custodial and mobile settings such as at the roadside, it has a broad range of applications.

Steve Wilkinson, Law Enforcement Manager at Dräger, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Durham Constabulary in this pioneering initiative to reduce drugs-related crime and improve treatment for drug addiction. The scheme demonstrates another important use of the Dräger DrugTest 5000.

“The DrugTest 5000 equipment has Home Office type approval for the testing of cannabis and cocaine both in police stations and at the roadside. The rigorous type approval process has confirmed that our device is accurate, reliable and robust – and has a range of applications.

“At Dräger, looking at individual circumstances and finding long term solutions is at the heart of everything we do. We’re an holistic solutions provider and it is extremely positive to see our drug detection kits being used in innovative ways and supporting positive initiatives – like the scheme adopted by Durham Constabulary.

“We hope the success of this scheme will encourage other police forces around the UK to look at how drug testing might be able to help support their long-term goals and reduce crime.”

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