A new programme to indentify and help drug users is being put in place at some of Wales' major police stations. Suspects arrested for some offences will now be automatically screened for heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine use.
The Tough Choices drugs intervention programme is being introduced in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham.
Those testing positive for drug use will face possible bail restrictions and compulsory referrals for assessment and treatment.
Insp Iestyn Davies, who heads drug intervention for North Wales Police, said: "The drug intervention programme provides an opportunity for everyone to win.
"Drug-misusing offenders get help through treatment and support, communities suffer less crime and the taxpayer saves money as criminal justice costs are reduced."
But the programme takes a carrot-and-stick approach to intervention, explained the police officer.
"Drug misusing offenders will have the opportunity to engage in treatment and this may be part of their bail conditions.
"Failure to comply with the conditions of their bail may result in a fine, imprisonment or both."
The intervention programme is already running in England
Custody suite officer have been trained to use drug-testing equipment, and those under scrutiny will face mouth swabs for analysis.
North Wales Police estimate that crack cocaine addicts in Wrexham alone spend £500 a week on the drug - and are individually responsible for £96,000 crime costs.
The intervention scheme is part of the assembly government and UK Home Office strategy for tackling drug misuse, and was implemented in England in 2006.
Katy Playle, who is a regional manager for the interventions programme in north Wales, said the scheme was chance for repeat offenders to tackle their drug problems and "ultimately have an opportunity to address the factors which drive their offending".
Steve Jones, service director for north Wales and Cheshire at Arch Initiatives, who will be delivering the new services in north Wales, added: "Arch Initiatives has a proven track record in supporting drug users and reducing crime.
"We have been delivering successful drug intervention programmes for police forces in Merseyside and Cheshire for over five years."
By BBC News, 1st of April 2009
Original Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/7976950.stm