Cops want more drug test­ing units

Pilbara News - - News - Tayissa Barone and Ali­cia Perera

Pil­bara traf­fic po­lice have said there is a need for more driver drug test­ing ma­chines at a time when re­gional of­fi­cers are catch­ing an av­er­age of five drug driv­ers a day, nearly dou­ble the num­ber in Perth.

There is only one Draeger Drug Test 5000 ma­chine al­lo­cated to each re­gion in the State, with the Pil­bara’s based in Kar­ratha.

Pil­bara traf­fic po­lice co-or­di­na­tor Paul Arnold said though the squad and its sub­dis­trict sta­tions car­ried out tar­geted and ran­dom drug test­ing across the 502,000sqkm re­gion, there was still “ab­so­lutely” a need for more test­ing ma­chines.

“I would like to see a unit in ev­ery sta­tion,” he said.

“A drug ma­chine would in­crease our op­er­a­tional ca­pac­ity and rad­i­cally re­duce travel time when a per­son is ap­pre­hended. Fur­ther ma­chines would also as­sist in the event that a ma­chine be­came un­ser­vice­able.

“The re­al­ity is, how­ever, all things be­ing equal and with fi­nite re­sources you will al­ways get a bet­ter re­turn in higher pop­u­lated ar­eas, hence why we have them in the larger cen­tres in the Pil­bara.”

The av­er­age fig­ure of five re­gional drug driv­ers a day comes as of­fi­cers spoke of their con­cerns about be­ing forced to share drug-driv­ing equip­ment as metham­phetamine use con­tin­ues to grow.

Drug-driver test­ing was rolled out in re­gional WA in July 2014, but test­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties have been re- stricted by the al­lo­ca­tion of only one test­ing ma­chine per re­gion.

Sta­tions hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres apart must share a ma­chine, some­thing of­fi­cers warn is al­low­ing re­peat of­fend­ers to flout the law be­cause the chances of be­ing caught are re­duced.

De­spite the re­stric­tions, re­gional po­lice were able to con­duct 13,083 tests, re­sult­ing in 1806 driv­ers test­ing pos­i­tive to drugs last year.

In Perth, where of­fi­cers have ac­cess to a dozen drug-test­ing ma- chines, 1164 driv­ers of 14,432 tested re­turned pos­i­tive drug re­sults.

In July, Ex­mouth of­fi­cers caught five driv­ers on a sin­gle day, and Roe­bourne and South Hed­land are some of the sta­tions that have ex­pressed dis­may on­line at mul­ti­ple pos­i­tive test re­sults.

A WA Po­lice spokesman said drug-test­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties and tech­nol­ogy were be­ing re­viewed.

The pur­chase of 20 Draeger ma­chines two years ago was made pos­si­ble with fund­ing from the Road Trauma Trust Ac­count.

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