Random Drug Testing Coming To A Street Near You.
Former London "top cop" Chief Det Super, Eddie Ellison described such testing as the logical equivalent of licking an exhaust pipe to see if the car had been speeding. He also had grave Image via Wikipediaconcerns as to the public perception of Police in general arguing that any such 'goodwill' cache will satisfy 'a few, desperate for drug policy to somehow work' while degrading vital public support. His emphasis was on good police management, value for money resourcing and effective evidence based options.
It is a dangerous step in invasive practice degrading civil liberty, and represents the worst in "pharmakos" - (google it here)
In Scotland a new technology that detects the merest hint of illegal drugs on the hands of [potential] patrons of bars and night clubs leads to forbidden entry and in liaison with police providing 'probable cause' to search invoked.
It is a small step for 'drug intel' to do the same from roadside collected data. (data matching, so clearly protected against in the beginning of Wanganui Computer central records, is now common practice)
We should not suck up to this in silence, the NATIONAL PARTY has indicated it will pass at the earliest opportunity this perceived to be 'tough on crime' legislation. Image: Mike Kline via Flickr
(see Timaru Herald's slightly more considered DRUNK, rather than drugged drivers, are the more prolific on South Canterbury roads. compared to Roadside testing for drugged drivers hailed in Wairapa Times-Age.)
Clearly this is an issue in which public perceptions will be fundamental to the justification. (note the comment in the Time-Age "a two-year campaign in Britain led to a halving, to none, of dead young male drivers being on drugs. " - so just how big exactly was the problem? Now compare that to alcohol! Could they be so lucky! )
Media has set the ground for this radical intervention with its policy, intended or otherwise of pharmakos. (all drug use is misuse, all illegal drug users are bad, and legal drug abusers can go to hell too.)
We are in dangerous social engineering territory....far far more dangerous than anything LABOUR was accused of. Image by CalAggie via Flickr
We need a constitution and protection from the corrosive excesses of givamint.
Motorists to face roadside drug tests
By Michael Savage, Political Correspondent
Friday, 21 November 2008
New technology that can test drivers for illegal drugs in as little as 90 seconds will be ready for police use as early as next year, The Independent has learnt.
Government officials are keen to approve the roadside gadgetry "as soon as possible", with developers working to have the devices ready for use by the second half of next year. The breakthrough technology will allow police officers to test drivers for heroin, cocaine, cannabis, methamphetamines and amphetamines by testing a swab of a driver's saliva in a handheld device. (one needs to be very precautionary, this is and has 'serious' implications for those accused - very serious, and socially very expensive, yet the problem space may be very small and best addressed by enabling credible health promotion)
Roadside testing has been hampered in the past by the slowness of the process, which can take about 10 minutes. Other effective drugs tests require a urine sample (largely ineffective and socially unacceptable in practice), making them difficult to implement for drug-driving tests. ( Just because we have found an easy way doesn't make the policy automatically acceptable or appropriate)
The Transport minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, wants to crack down (war talk alert) on those who use a car while under the influence of drugs, including legal drugs that can impair concentration. Up to a fifth of drivers killed in road accidents are found to have drugs in their system. (it is known that inclusion of cannabis testing 'data' grossly distorts this data set in favour of the elected official whose 'policy' of cracking down is expediency pandering to fears where there may well be none. )An older version of the technology is already being used by the Home Office to test offenders (and innocent people) for drugs. They are also used for roadside testing by police in countries including Australia, Italy and Croatia. (which still doesn't make it pass the analytic standard, Australia's experience has not been as good as this would imply)
A swab of saliva is placed in a handheld tester the size of a chip-and-pin machine. Officers are then told (by a machine) whether the driver has passed or failed the test and which drugs have been detected. (watch out the poppy seed bun and innumerable other false positives.!)
A (unnamed) spokesperson at the Department for Transport said: "We are working very closely with the Home Office to make sure the approval document needed for roadside devices is completed as soon as possible. We are serious about tackling the (unquantified) problem of drug-driving."
Talks have been held between the company producing the technology, Concateno, and the Department for Transport. Philip Hand, a consultant with Concateno, said: "The new system will be easy for police to use and appropriate for roadside tests (sales pitch alert). We are hoping to receive the necessary approval before the devices are ready to be rolled out at the end of the year." (absent evidence this intervention is even warranted, in particular, for cannabis, where the correspondence to public danger is unproven or the 'harms' of creating unintended social downsides uncosted. )The Government plans to create legislation to bring drug-driving in line with drink-driving. (and the evidence for this is? alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that has a linear correlation to impairment, whereas for cannabis the determinant is pharmakos ) Other measures proposed in its road safety consultation, published yesterday, include a plan to ban drivers who are twice caught exceeding a speed limit by 20mph. The Government is also considering a lowering of the legal alcohol limit from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg – the level most commonly used throughout the EU. (decreasing the size of the net, is not addressing the recidivist or the grossly impaired.... )
Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›
Spokesperson on Climate Change, Environment and Associate 'Shadow' Law And Order.
Social Ecologist 'at large'
ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219