Drug tests for those arrested in Lincolnshire with offer of help to ‘turn life around’

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People arrested for theft and drugs-related offences in Lincolnshire will now be tested and offered help to break their habit.

Detainees taken to Boston, Grantham and Lincoln police stations’ custody suites for so-called “trigger offences” alongside a Class A drug offence are now required to provide a sample of saliva for testing.

The test is to determine whether they have cocaine, crack cocaine or heroin in their system, explains Lincolnshire Police and the trigger offences are crimes such as theft, burglary, robbery, and fraud.

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An inspector can also authorise a drug test for non-trigger offences if there is a direct connection between the offence and Class A drugs.

The refurbished Custody Suite at Skegness police station will be next to bring in the drug testing and referral scheme in the county.The refurbished Custody Suite at Skegness police station will be next to bring in the drug testing and referral scheme in the county.
The refurbished Custody Suite at Skegness police station will be next to bring in the drug testing and referral scheme in the county.

When the person arrested gives a positive result, the detainee will be referred to a specialist drugs support service in Lincolnshire to access treatment and support to help them in their recovery, which is often the cause of their offending, according to the force.

The offence they were originally brought in to custody for is still dealt with as it would be any other time, just separately.

Mark Lassmans, is coordinating the initiative for Lincolnshire Police.He said: "We know that so many offences that are committed in Lincolnshire are motivated by a need to fund drug addictions

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"Initiatives like drug testing on arrest, which aims to reduce the number of drug-related crimes and drug-related deaths in the county, will do just that, by referring detainees to drug treatment services. This will give those who need it the most the best chance of turning their lives around by providing them with the support they desperately need and help them in their recovery."

The aim is to treat the cause of the problem and reduce the volume of crime committed as a result. Accepting treatment following a positive test in custody is also thought to help to reduce the number of drug-related deaths.

Once referred, those who require treatment could be supported in other ways to tackle other underlying issues, such as help to attend doctor’s appointments to address physical health concerns, access other areas of support from drug treatment services to help beat their dependency on drugs, get help with issues such as finance or housing, and be supported to engage with social care services.

Since drug testing began in March, 65 per cent of people have tested positive for one or more Class A drugs and been referred to Lincolnshire Recovery Partnership (LRP) for help and guidance. LRP is part of the Turning Point organisation, which offers drug and alcohol addiction support.

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The drug testing in custody is mandatory for those who meet the requirements. Anyone who refuses to provide a saliva sample without good cause, can be charged and sent to court. Those who provide a saliva sample which then gives a positive result must attend a mandatory appointment with LRP. If they fail to attend that appointment, then in some circumstances they will be sent a second chance appointment by LRP with an alternative time and date. If they fail to show for their second appointment then they can be summonsed to court.

Lincolnshire Police says almost 90 per cent of those tested and referred have attended their appointments and a number of those have entered into further treatment, accessing help and support to aid them in their recovery.

The scheme is now up and running at three out of the four custody suites in Lincolnshire, with Skegness to follow shortly.

Mr Lassmans added: "The more people we can help and get into treatment, the less likely they are to continue committing offences and the lower the risk of them succumbing to the tragedy of drug poisoning.

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"Drug testing on arrest can help people out of the cycle of re-offending and into treatment to get their lives back on track. It’s important to remember that drug testing is not about criminalising people, but to get them in to treatment wherever possible. If we can turn one person’s life around or save one life, then it will be worth it."