Friday, December 2, 2005
From the Manchester Evening News: "POLICE in Greater Manchester will be able to drug-test suspected criminals before they are charged. Anyone arrested for an "acquisition" crime - such as burglary or street robbery - faces checks for heroin, cocaine or crack use under pilot powers given by the Home Office to three police forces. Those who refuse to give samples face fines of up to £2,500 or a three-month jail term. Nearly half of thefts, burglary and robberies in Manchester are believed to be committed by people taking class A drugs and police say the new powers would cut crime rates. They are also being used in South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. The test areas were chosen because they have the highest rates of drug-linked crime. Greater Manchester Police have been allowed since 2003 to test people charged with certain offences for Class A drugs. Last year that power was extended to include teenagers as young as 14.
Home Office figures showed that in 2004, 43 per cent of 3,440 people who underwent the tests were shown to have been taking crack, heroin or cocaine. Courts in the region can deny bail to anyone who tests positive but refuses rehabilitation. Acquisitive crime has fallen from 225,662 incidents in 2002-03 to just 171,468 in 2004-05. Ian Seabridge, assistant chief constable of GMP, said: "Breaking the connection between crime and illicit drugs is vital to reducing overall crime and making the streets of Greater Manchester a safer place. "We have known for a long time that a large proportion of crime is committed as a result of drug use. "This new power, enabling us to drug test people on arrest will mean that more drug users who offend will receive treatment and in turn, will stop their offending behaviour. If we can successfully remove the need to obtain drugs, we can continue to reduce the levels of offending." Rest of story.... [Mark Godsey]