POLICE in Hastings have been given new powers to test on arrest anyone suspected of crimes linked to drug abuse.
Anyone arrested locally for so called trigger crimes, like burglary or theft, will now be tested for illegal substances.
And, if the results show positive for either heroin or cocaine, they could be forced to attend a drug-misuse programme to tackle their addiction.
The increase in powers, which was rubber-stamped this week, will see the number of local drug intervention programmes (DIPs) increased in a bid to get more adult offenders out of crime and into drug treatment.
District Commander Mark Ling, of Hastings Police, welcomed the news, saying it added an extra string to the force’s bow. He said: “Intensive DIP involves identifying Class A drug misusing offenders as they go through the criminal justice system to deal with their behaviour, getting them out of crime and into treatment and other support.
“This begins at their first point of contact at arrest and can continue through custody, court, sentence, treatment and beyond into resettlement.
“This is an innovative new approach for Hastings in breaking the cycle of drug influenced offending.”
And Jim Horton, a locally based substance misuse services manager, said: “Our aim will be to support people to overcome their dependence on drugs and to live more stable and crime-free lives.
“We will work within local communities to help service users sustain their recovery through employment, stable housing, volunteer activities and education.”
There is also talk that the new powers could be broadened to include anyone arrested - regardless of the crime - although no plans are in place at present.
Announcing the change earlier this week, crime prevention minister James Brokenshire said: “Drug testing on arrest is a vital part of the work police and local partners do to reduce drug-related crime locally.”
Anyone with a drug problem looking for help can call 01424 452580.