Teenagers charged with theft, burglary or car crime will be
automatically tested for Class A drugs from this week.
Fourteen to seventeen year olds in ten areas will be subject to
the tests when they are charged with any of a range of
“trigger” offences which often linked to drug use.
Those testing positive for heroin, crack or cocaine will be
referred to specialist youth workers.
Police already have the power to test over-18s in police
detention who have been charged with certain offences. The list of
trigger offences has been extended to include handling stolen goods
and offences related to begging. Individuals charged with other
offences can also be tested if authorised by a senior police
Drug testing for teenagers will initially take place in
Liverpool, Manchester, Camden, Southwark, Newham, Middlesborough,
Nottingham, Calderdale, Bradford and Kingston upon Hull.
Drug information charity DrugScope has given a cautious welcome
to the pilots but has warned that more investment is needed in drug
prevention and treatment programmes if use of class A drugs by
young people is to be reduced.