Police drug testing driver disproportionately targets black people


In October, the government gave a total of £375,000 to police in England and Wales to expand their ability to screen for drugs on arrest.

But South Yorkshire was one of five forces selected to receive an extra £32,000 to increase testing for those arrested on suspicion of a wider range of offences, such as domestic violence and public order offences.

The program is part of the government’s ten-year program medication regimenwhich includes £15m of funding over the next four years alone.

Only £5,000 of the total £375,000 is earmarked for additional testing equipment and training for police and staff. It is unclear whether this will include additional training to detect and deal with possible racial bias.

Currently, drug testing upon arrest is primarily reserved for so-called “trigger offences,” such as burglary and robbery. A government white paper will also consider whether the tool can be used for recreational drug users.

Since 2019, the annual number of drug tests on arrest has fallen across several police forces in England and Wales.

In London, the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police have seen their numbers fall year-on-year since 2019, while forces in Gwent, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire have plateaued or started to increase after a sharp decline in 2020.

On the other hand, global arrests have increased for South and West Yorkshire and Gwent, while for the Met they remained virtually the same for the years 2019/2020 and 2020/2021.

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