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Drug Screening

Volume 464: debated on Monday 15 October 2007

13. What progress has been made in approving a roadside drug screening device for use by police. (157289)

The Forensic Science Service has been engaged in drawing up the detailed specification essential for such a device. The specification will be issued shortly; it will then be for manufacturers to prepare devices in line with that specification and to submit them to the type approval process.

Given the estimates that fully 18 per cent. of drivers killed in road accidents are under the influence of drugs or have traces of drugs in their system, will the Minister explain the inordinate delay in introducing roadside tests, given the fact that permission was given four years ago, in the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003? Why are the Government dragging their heels so much on giving the police the assistance they need to deal effectively with the problem?

The Government are not dragging their heels. The scientists are putting together a specification; when they have done so, it will be made available to manufacturers to enable them to produce a device allowing roadside screening for the presence of certain drugs. The hon. Gentleman will know, however, that the offence is not necessarily the presence of illegal drugs in someone’s body, but the impairment that they cause, and the field impairment test is currently available to police officers to use at the roadside.