Probation Circular

To advise chief officers that they should introduce drug testing across the approved premises (AP) estate from 1 April 2006 in line with government policy to expand the scope of drug testing of offenders under Probation Service supervision. REFERENCE NO: 05/2006 ISSUE DATE: 14 February 2006 IMPLEMENTATION DATE: 1 April 2006 EXPIRY DATE: March 2011 TO: Chairs of Probation Boards Chief Officers of Probation Secretaries of Probation Boards CC: Board Treasurers Regional Managers AUTHORISED BY: Claire Wiggins, Head of Intensive Interventions

Chief Officers to note. ACOs responsible for APs should ensure that: • • • • Provision is in place to carry out tests, if this is not already the case There is an appropriate hostel rule making clear that testing will be carried out and on what basis Treatment can be accessed for those who test positive The sanctions are clear for those who test positive and refuse treatment, or who continue to test positive over time.

The government is committed to expanding the scope of drug testing of offenders under supervision to ensure that those who need treatment receive treatment. Testing of prolific and other priority offenders (PPOs) on licence was introduced under the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 in April 2005 (though had already been available in some areas before this). This circular introduces testing of hostel residents in all approved premises. NPD will make ‘pump priming’ funds available this year to enable approved premises to order equipment and testing kits. National framework contracts are available to supply this if required.

PC34/05, PC72/05

Robin Brennan, 020 7217 0916

National Probation Directorate
Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London, SW1P 2AW

1. 1.1

Extent of current testing NPD conducted a survey of APs in November. Of the responses (74 per cent of the total), about two-thirds already test for drugs in support of National Standard 12.4.1 The drugs most commonly tested for are opiates, followed by cocaine and amphetamines. All hostels which test do so where there are suspicions that a resident has been using drugs. 90 per cent test known drug users; 90 per cent also test randomly. The method of testing is evenly split between urine and oral fluid. Hostel staff are, without exception, conducting the tests themselves. The cost of testing in most cases is met from the mainstream AP budget. Proposed testing regime Testing all offenders would waste scarce resources and be prone to human rights difficulties. Following the initial concentration of testing on PPOs, because they are responsible for committing high volumes of acquisitive crime, ministers have agreed to extend testing to approved premises. This will concentrate resources on high-risk offenders and reinforce the National Standard prohibiting controlled drugs in hostels. The initiative will comply with the Human Rights Act because residents agree to abide by the hostel rules. It will, accordingly, be essential that there is signed consent to the rules in every case before a hostel place is taken up. Testing known drug users on arrival or when they are suspected of renewed drug use is a targeted and prudent use of resources. Hostels which are not currently testing on this basis are asked to put this provision in place. There may be occasions when an offender’s drug use is not known, is denied, or has just started, or where there are suspicions of drug use which cannot be linked to individuals (such as where drug-taking paraphernalia are found on the premises). It is important therefore that the hostel rules provide for the testing of any resident, on reasonable suspicion and at the discretion of staff, and that this is explained to the offender when s/he signs the rules. Hostels should not test residents at random regardless of previous drug history. For offenders where there is no history of drug use this might constitute an infringement of their human rights under Article 8 of the European Convention (the right to freedom from interference with his/her physical integrity) even if the hostel rules had been signed before they were given a bed. Testing ‘on reasonable suspicion’ might include testing an offender where drug paraphernalia had been found in his room. Random testing of offenders where there is a previous history of drug use is acceptable. APs should test for heroin and cocaine/crack cocaine as a minimum. Areas will need to put in place arrangements for confirmatory testing in a laboratory for when test results are disputed. Many hostels are already testing for alcohol. This should be on reasonable suspicion and where there is concern about possible outcomes (such as where alcohol is a known disinhibiting factor in previous offending or there is a likelihood of disorder in the hostel). Residents with a previous history of alcohol-related offending can be tested randomly. Hostel rules These should have in place: • • • • • Provision to drug test residents, on reasonable suspicion, for heroin and cocaine/crack cocaine (as a minimum) Provision to test residents for alcohol, on reasonable suspicion Provision to test randomly those residents who have a previous history of drug use Provision to test randomly those residents who a previous history of alcohol-related offending A prohibition of alcohol, solvents and controlled drugs

2. 2.1




2.4 2.5


3. 3.1

‘Approved premises shall have a set of local house rules covering, at the minimum… the prohibition of using alcohol, solvents and controlled drugs, other than on prescription and following notification to approved premises staff.’ PC05/2006 – Approved Premises: Drug Testing of Residents 2


A stipulation that prescribed medication must be handed to staff and administered under staff supervision.


The rules should also indicate the sanctions which may be imposed if a rule were to be broken (in this instance either through positive tests or refusal to provide a test). Enforcement The purpose of drug testing residents is two-fold: to monitor the drug-free status of APs; and to increase the takeup of treatment by those who need it. It follows from the latter that testing positive for drugs should not automatically lead to eviction from the hostel where the resident is motivated to accept treatment. Management of those who test positive will depend on: • • • • • The risk status of the resident The perceived effectiveness of treatment The number of positive tests The extent to which repeated breaches undermine respect for the rules and/or encourage drug use in others The order or licence to which the resident is subject.

4. 4.1

Balancing these issues is a matter best determined on a case-by-case basis and NPD is not proposing a detailed national enforcement regime. Areas are reminded however that, for PPOs on licence, three consecutive tests or two non-consecutive tests in a six-week period are grounds for recall (though offenders in treatment can avoid this). Action should be taken if this threshold is reached. The primary criterion in coming to a decision should always be the risk of harm posed by the resident. This is more important than continuing drug treatment in the community. 5. 5.1 Drug testing equipment and supplies APs are already using both urine and oral fluid tests from various suppliers. NPD favours oral fluid testing which poses fewer health and safety concerns and is less invasive of privacy, though this is probably more appropriate for testing on suspicion than for random tests because the testing ‘window’ is narrow, i.e. the test will only detect drug use in the very recent past. APs are at liberty to continue to use their existing suppliers. NPD is extending the scope of the contracts let for PPOs and the pilot areas so that APs are able to order from them. Details of the contact points for these contracts are: SureScreen Diagnostics Ltd Unit 1, Prime Parkway Derby DE1 3QB Tel: 01332 365318 Contact: E-mail: Sid Patel


Cozart Bioscience Ltd 92 Milton Park Abingdon Oxfordshire, OX14 4RY Tel: 01235 861483 Contact: E-mail: Lianne Main

Copies of the contracts, including the price schedule, have been sent to ACOs with responsibility for drug testing of PPOs. Further copies are available from Robin Brennan by email. PC05/2006 – Approved Premises: Drug Testing of Residents 3


The central contracts provide ‘two panel’ test kits for opiates and cocaine. There is provision in the contracts for screening tests to be sent for laboratory confirmation. Hostels which decide to test more widely for drugs are at liberty to do so, through these or other suppliers. Diversity issues and monitoring APs will need to ensure that testing does not impact disproportionately on black and ethnic minority residents or otherwise be applied in a discriminatory way. In light of this, the initiative will be monitored by means of changes to the monthly H1 monitoring form which will include recording of information relating to ‘social identity’. NPD will also be monitoring: • • • • Number of individual residents tested Number testing positive Whether offenders testing positive enter treatment Enforcement outcomes.

5.4 6. 6.1


7.0 7.1

Finance ACOs for hostels will be contacted by email so that payment can be made on a reimbursement basis.

PC05/2006 – Approved Premises: Drug Testing of Residents