Saturday, October 31, 2020
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In a particularly eggregious move, England's Sussex Police Authority has decided to subject anyone arrested on a drug-related crime - which could be anything from theft to disruptive behavior - to a drug test, according to a July 28, 2009 article printed in The Argus ("Police to Drug-Test Sussex Suspects on Arrest"). Authorities frame the initiative as a harm reduction measure designed to "get addicts out of crime and into treatment." However, the drug testing requirement applies not just to those convicted of wrongdoing but to any "[p]eople arrested on suspicion of drug-related crimes." As the article states, "Even if they are not formally charged with any crime, anyone who tested positive for drugs would have to attend a meeting with a drugs worker - and could be prosecuted if they do not.
Police claim that the "proactive" measure will help reduce crime, citing anecdotal evidence that "most car crime, burglary, and theft is carried out by drug addicts motivated to steal to fund their habit," as well as prevent overdose, though the article gives little indication as to how drug testing arrestees might accomplish the second goal.
Although the idea might drive down crime rates, it violates the privacy of individuals who may or may not have committed any sort of crime. Far from being a harm reduction measure, Sussex's newly announced drug testing program will likely only widen the net to ensnare more citizens into England's criminal justice system.