Suffolk: Drugs trial reveals nearly a third of suspects tested at custody centre had taken heroin or cocaine

NEARLY 30% of suspects brought into Martlesham custody centre for non-drug related crimes over the past two months had taken heroin or cocaine.

Figures for a pilot project for targeted drug testing at the Suffolk Constabulary headquarters investigation centre show 82 out of 284 suspects had Class A drugs in their system, according to the county’s Drug and Alcohol Action Team.

The six-month trial is also taking place at 25 other forces across the country.

It involves criminal justice and drug treatment providers working with other services to offer help for addicts who commit crime to fund their substance misuse.

Anyone arrested for offences that research has shown to be linked with the use of Class A drugs such as theft, burglary and handling stolen goods, have been tested for drugs since August 1.

Police have the power to request a mouth swab to test adults arrested or charged with any ‘trigger offence’ for the presence of the specified Class A drugs, heroin and or cocaine/ crack.

The result of the test is known within five minutes and a confirmation test can be requested, with results being known within five days.

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The project requires anyone testing positive to take part in the Drug Interventions Programme (DIP), which offers the opportunity for structured treatment to tackle substance misuse.

Penalties for those who refuse can include arrest, or lengthier custodial sentences for those receiving a prison sentence.

Eleven of the 82 suspects who have proved positive for drugs so far were not previously involved with treatment services.

Simon Aalders, of the Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team, said: “The testing on arrest pilot demonstrates the clear link between addiction and offending.

“Providing offenders with the opportunity to get off drugs is a key part of reducing offending, and making Suffolk a safer place to live.

“The initial results are very encouraging; we hope to see the long term results reflected in lower levels of acquisitive crime in the county and more people engaging in specialist help for their drug problems.”

A total of 1,139 suspects were brought into Martlesham police investigation centre in August and September.