Cops want more drug testing units
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.