Drug Testing in Prisons
In the UK almost half of those released from prison go on to reoffend within 12 months with an estimated cost to the taxpayer of £9.5 to £13 billion per year. Rehabilitation into society is very difficult if somebody leaves prison with a drug problem. In England and Wales drug use is a major problem in the prison system:
- 70% of offenders report drug misuse prior to prison
- 51% report drug dependency
- 35% admit injecting behaviour
- 36% report heavy drinking
- 16% are alcohol dependant
On its own drug testing cannot solve the problem of drugs within prisons but it does contribute to the overall objective of reducing drug misuse when used as part of a wider and more comprehensive drug strategy. Therefore drug testing is of vital importance in aiding the prevention of drug abuse inside prisons and engaging drug misusing offenders as early as possible in their contact with the criminal justice system.
HM Prison Contracts
We are the proud holders of the HM Prison contracts for Compact Based Drug Testing (CBDT) and Mandatory Drug Testing (MDT) in England and Wales. We have been working with the prison service for over a decade in aiding the prevention of drug abuse inside prisons.
Our strong relationship with the HM Prison service has led us to develop a bespoke urine laboratory testing service. Every month over 5,000 samples are collected using bespoke kits and sent to our urine laboratory in London for analysis.
Prisons are required to test between 5 and 15% of their population at random each month. All prisoners found guilty on adjudication of administering a Class A drug, for example, heroin, cocaine or methadone, must be placed on a programme of mandatory frequent testing.
The specific objectives of mandatory drug tests are as follows:
- to increase significantly the detection of those misusing drugs and to send a clear message to all prisoners that if they misuse drugs they have a greater risk of being caught and punished;
- to help prisoners to resist the peer pressure often placed on them to become involved in drug taking, due to the increased possibility of detection;
- to help to identify prisoners who may need assistance to combat their drug problems with assistance offered to those who want it;
- to provide, by means of the random testing programme, more accurate and objective information on the scale, trends and patterns of drug misuse, allowing prisons to manage and target more effectively their resources for tackling drug problems; and
- to enable the proportion of prisoners testing positive for different drug types on the random testing programme to be used as one performance indicator of drug misuse
The HM Prison service also conducts voluntary drug tests under the remit of the Compact Based Drug Testing programme (CBDT) (formerly known as Voluntary Drug Testing (VDT)). The programme utilises Alere Toxicology Drug Screen Test Panel dip and read urine drug tests to confirm that prisoners are staying drug free in accordance with their compact.
The primary purpose of CBDT is therapeutically based and is intended to provide a supportive environment for those prisoners requiring the motivation to remain drug free. This in-turn helps reduce the demand for drugs in prisons and helps provide drug free environments within prisons.