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New powers to drug test on arrest

Police are to be granted new powers making it easier for them to carry out drug tests on arrest.

The move is aimed at reducing the amount of "needless bureaucracy" officers deal with, the Government claims.

Previously, police forces had to apply for authorisation from the Home Office to "test on arrest" at specific police stations.

Once authorisation was granted the station would test at least 95% of those arrested for certain "trigger offences" such as burglary.

Now chief constables will just need to inform the Home Office that they are using this power.

Outlining the change, crime prevention minister James Brokenshire said: "We are determined to free the police from needless bureaucracy and pointless national targets.

"By scrapping the requirement for police to apply for authorisation to test on arrest, we are giving officers the flexibility to test where it is appropriate.

"Drug testing on arrest is a vital part of the work police and local partners do to reduce drug-related crime locally. We must give those who know what works in their neighbourhood the power to develop plans which meet local needs."

All 43 police forces in England and Wales have the power to drug test people who have been arrested if officers have reasonable grounds for suspecting they have used Class A drugs such as heroin or cocaine.

If the person tests positive, they must attend an assessment with a drug worker who will make a series of recommendations to support their recovery.

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From Belfast Telegraph