Drugs (Roadside Testing) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:34 am on 10th June 2011.

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Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch 9:34 am, 10th June 2011

My hon. Friend is certainly right that it is absolutely vital that the devices used in police stations to provide conclusive evidence that a person has drugs in their system are 100% accurate. We are on the threshold of having type approval for such devices. I am dealing with screening devices that could be used at the roadside and that are comparable to the devices used to identify those suspected of drink-driving. Those screening devices, which people have to blow into through a tube, indicate prima facie whether there is excess alcohol in the system. It might turn out that those people, even if they have a positive breath test, are found not to test positive when they get down to the police station and a blood sample is taken. The device is a screening device. It enables the police, following road traffic accidents or offences, to screen people they suspect of having alcohol in their system. I am suggesting that we urgently need a similar system for people who are suspected of having drugs in their system.

Annotations

Ean Lewin
Posted on 15 Jun 2011 2:04 pm (Report this annotation)

Absolutely correct, the screening device simply prioritises that person for a confirmation sample.

To make it clearer why this is an important point, one of the weaknesses in the current system is that if an officer decides to take a suspect to the police station on grounds of possible impairment through drugs, the delay introduced by the process of calling out a Doctor to assess the suspect adds on average 2 1/4 hrs acording to Governments own figures. This delay means the drug has mostly worn off and the Doctor sees no impairment and does not authorise the taking of the confirmation sample. So no prosecution.

Hence, a positive screen should, as later discussed by J Brokenshire, prioritise the suspect for the confirmation sample to be taken at the earliest possible opportunity, thus confirming the officers original suspicion.