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Suspects to be drug tested on arrest in bid to reduce crime

PUBLISHED: 11:12 22 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:44 22 January 2020

Chief Inspector Lou Provart. Picture: ARCHANT

Chief Inspector Lou Provart. Picture: ARCHANT

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, an initiative involving Norfolk Police and Public Health Norfolk's drug and alcohol support service, Change Grow Live, began at Great Yarmouth police station in November and has now been rolled out across the rest of the county.

Any suspect 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.

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."

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