UK government awards new oral screening, drug testing contract

Tuesday, 28 October, 2008

Processing of arrestees in police detention improved by quicker, simpler testing device

Concateno plc, Europe's largest provider of drug and alcohol testing programmes, has announced a two-year, £4.5 million Home Office contract to provide police with a new device to detect heroin and cocaine / crack in the oral fluid of arrestees.

Concateno's drug detection system Cozart® DDS® replaces its previous product Cozart® RapiScan and provides an even simpler way to test quickly for the drugs heroin and cocaine / crack. It will be introduced to some 177 police custody suites across England and Wales from September 2008, when it will significantly reduce the time it takes for people to be tested for the use of the specified drugs, heroin and cocaine.

As part of the government's Drug Interventions Programme (DIP), the tests are a key part of the national strategy for tackling drugs and reducing crime. Currently, in areas where drug testing is in operation, anyone arrested for trigger offences such as burglary and robbery is tested to find out if they have taken heroin or cocaine. Those who test positive are required to attend an assessment of their drug dependency and related needs.

The police conduct in the region of 220,000 such tests each year, as a result of which approximately 4,000 drug misusers are referred to treatment every month. Recorded crime figures show that acquisitive crime has fallen by more than a fifth since the programme started.

It is the third time that the Home Office has awarded the testing contract to Cozart, now part of Concateno, since an initial pilot began in 2001. According to the contract terms, the initial two-year period may be extended a further year at the discretion of the Home Office.

Concateno technical director Dene Baldwin said: "Using a mouth swab to collect the sample and our Cozart DDS device to analyse it enables the detection of heroin or cocaine in an arrestee's saliva in less than three minutes. It is easier to use than our previous RapiScan product; we believe this will halve the time police take to operate a drugs' screen."

Concateno's chief executive Fiona Begley added: "Winning this contract with the Home Office further cements our support for important drug initiatives. It also underlines our progress in integrating the companies we have acquired since 2006, and the advantages it gives our clients in bringing together that drug testing expertise."

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