By staff

The police are to be given new powers to ‘test on arrest’ for drug use, in a bid to combat use in the inner cities.

Under previous procedures, a police station had to apply to the Home Office to be able to drug test someone who had been arrested for a ‘trigger offence’ like burglary.

Chief constables will now simply tell the Home Office they are using the power, instead of requesting approval.

An officer of inspector rank or above will be able to authorise the test.

James Brokenshire, minister for crime prevention said the changes would reduce unnecessary red tape for the police.

“We are determined to free the police from needless bureaucracy and pointless national targets,” he said.

“By scrapping the requirement for police to apply for authorisation to test on arrest, we are giving officers the flexibility to test where it is appropriate.

“We must give those who know what works in their neighbourhood the power to develop plans which meet local needs.”

The government argues the ability to ‘test on arrest’ helps the police fight drug-related crime by getting users into treatment facilities.

All 43 police forces in England and Wales currently have the power to drug test people who have been arrested if they are suspected of using Class A drugs such as heroine or cocaine, but only 23 police forces currently use that power.

There are around 230,000 tests conducted every year for Class A substances.