Drug-Driving: Draw the Line Now

By Concateno, PRNE
Thursday, September 15, 2011

LONDON, September 16, 2011 -

Concateno Welcomes the Campaign to Make Lillian’s Law a Reality

On the 7th July, John Page was sentenced to eight months in prison for dangerous driving that led to the death of 14-year-old Lillian Groves. Page’s vehicle hit Lillian while she was playing outside her home in Croydon, and he admitted to smoking cannabis prior to the accident. At the time of the accident, police also found a half-smoked cannabis joint in his car.

On the 6th September it was revealed that, while traces of cannabis were found in Page’s blood, he avoided a charge of driving under the influence of drugs, which can carry a 14-year sentence, because only low traces of the substance were detected. Lillian’s family believes, however, that if Page had been tested at the scene of the accident, rather than nine hours later, he would have been deemed unfit to drive.

Following these events, Lillian Groves’ family has initiated a campaign to pass Lillian’s Law, which would permit the use of roadside drug testing devices, similar to the breathalysers that are used to screen drivers for alcohol.

Roadside drug testing programmes are already carried out in several countries today, including Australia, Spain, Germany, and Italy. These programmes utilize equipment that enables police to rapidly test motorists for the presence of drugs in saliva. The tests are minimally invasive, and they can be performed in approximately five to ten minutes.  Where implemented, these programmes have served as a deterrent to “drug-driving.”

For instance, since the introduction of its roadside drug testing programme in 2004, Victoria, Australia has seen the number of individuals driving under the influence of illicit drugs decrease over a five-year period from one in 44 to one in 94. This statistic very clearly suggests that roadside drug testing is an effective way to reduce drug-driving and contributes to better road safety.

In a statement made last year, the State of Victoria’s Police Inspector, Martin Boorman noted, “In Australia, the use of roadside drug testing technology has proved extremely successful and has certainly helped to make our roads safer. Roadside drug testing, much like the roadside alcohol screening test, acts as a deterrent, but also provides the police with a quick and effective means to help catch those people who drive while using illegal substances. This technology, when used in conjunction with a widespread educational campaign, has and continues to be extremely successful.”

Today, no such programmes exist in the UK. According to Iain Forcer, Concateno’s drug-driving spokesperson, “Police in the UK are not allowed to use these devices that can quickly test drivers for drug use. Instead, they are required to carry out a lengthy Field Impairment Test which can take up to 30 minutes to complete, and few police officers are qualified to carry out these FIT assessments.”

Current UK law focuses on impairment.  For alcohol, impairment can be easily assessed, as a legal limit is in place for every driver.  For drugs, on the other hand, such limits are unknown.  ”We believe that it is time to update the law to make it an offence for a driver simply to have a drug in their system known to cause impairment,” says Forcer.  ”Roadside testing devices incorporate cut-off levels to avoid registering false positives through passive smoking or contamination and will enable police to determine if individuals are driving under the influence of drugs quickly.”

Ironically, the police are already using these testing devices in over 170 police stations in England and Wales as part of their Drug Intervention Programmes.  In 2010, nearly a quarter of a million drug tests were performed on individuals arrested for burglaries and thefts.

Lillian Groves’ family argues that now, more than ever, is the time to draw the line and introduce Lillian’s Law in their daughter’s memory, a campaign being highlighted by Gareth Davies at the Croydon Advertiser.

Similarly, Concateno has been calling for improvements to road safety in the UK for many years, submitting responses to the North Review, to previous Governments’ consultation strategies, and to last October’s Transport Select Committee’s Inquiry into Drink and Drug Driving Law, where it was subsequently invited to provide oral evidence at the Houses of Parliament. The company offers a mobile drug testing solution, the DDS, which is a handheld device that can analyse a sample of oral fluids for six drugs in five minutes.  This technology won a Queens’ Award for Innovation in 2010.

Concateno will be attending the Transport Security Conference on the 14-15th September in Olympia, the international traffic police conference, TISPOL, on the 27-28th September in Manchester, and at the European DRUID Final Conference in Cologne, which is also on the 27-28th September, to demonstrate the latest successor to the DDS mobile drug testing device.

Concateno - global drug testing services

Informed testing for informed decisions, when it matters most

Concateno (www.concateno.com) brings together Europe’s strongest and most experienced drug and alcohol testing organisations and over 60 years of collected expertise. It offers an unparalleled breadth of advisory services and testing capabilities - spanning laboratory, point of care tests and all sample types for any biological specimen, including urine, oral fluids, hair and sweat.

Concateno’s 400+ employees perform and deliver more than 10 million tests annually, supported by a global network of 500 sample collection officers, trained in-house on strict chain-of-custody procedures. Together, they conduct testing for approximately 8,500 clients in 130 countries around the world across all industries, healthcare and government bodies.

Concateno’s dedicated divisions specialise in: Child Protection, Clinical Diagnostics, Criminal Justice, Employee Services, Healthcare and Maritime.

Quality is assured by the highest levels of accreditation, supported by expert and responsive customer service. Concateno’s three UK laboratories are audited and accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) to the international standard ISO/IEC 17025 for the testing for substance misuse in hair, oral fluids and urine, respectively. Laboratory products and point of care test products are manufactured within ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 13485:2003 certified facilities. The company is also subject to a range of external quality assurance programmes, including UKNEQAS, IIP and CAP (US scheme).

In August 2009, Concateno became a subsidiary of Alere Inc.

About Alere

By developing new capabilities in near-patient diagnosis, monitoring and health management, Alere Inc. (www.alere.com), enables individuals to take charge of improving their health and quality of life at home. Alere’s global leading products and services, as well as its new product development efforts, focus on infectious disease, cardiology, oncology, drugs of abuse and women’s health. Alere is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts.

For more information regarding Concateno, please contact: Kris Towse / Sian Edwards, concateno at chameleonpr.com, Chameleon PR, Tel: +44(0)20-7680-5500; Graham Sievers +44(0)7813-706-759, graham.sievers at concateno.com

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