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Criminal Justice and Court Services Act

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the operation of section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000; and what recent representations he has received about the operation of this (a) section and (b) Act. (71014)

Section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 (CJCS) inserted new provisions in section 38 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). These provisions enable police custody officers to detain a person after charge for the purposes of taking a sample (of urine or other non-intimate sample) to test for the presence of specified Class A drugs, subject to conditions and procedures set out in sections 63B and 63C of PACE .

The Drugs Act 2005 (section 7 and paragraphs 1-4 of Schedule 1) subsequently amended section 63B and other sections of PACE to allow for the testing of adults for specified Class A drugs on arrest while retaining the powers for testing on charge in the case of adults and the under eighteens (where applicable). Where a person has tested positive under these powers, section 9 of the Drugs Act introduced a new power for the police to require adults to attend an assessment of their drug use or face a criminal sanction.

This legislation forms a core part of the Drug Interventions Programme (DIP) and aims to identify problematic drug misusers at the earliest opportunity of their contact with the criminal justice system and get them into drug treatment and other support. Currently, drug testing operates within the 71 crime partnership areas across England and Wales with high levels of acquisitive crime, the so called ‘DIP intensive areas’.

The volume of tests conducted under this legislation continues to grow. Some 17, 400 adult drug tests were carried out in April 2006, more than three times the number in April 2005.

The Home Office has received no specific recent representations about the operation of section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 although a number of police forces have made enquiries about introducing drug testing in their areas.