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Random Drug Tests Slow Inmate Drug Usage

Media Release

14 June, 2002

Random Drug Tests Slow Inmate Drug Usage

The Department of Corrections says drug use by prison inmates has dropped significantly since the introduction of random drug tests by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) four years ago.

Public Prisons Service General Manager Phil McCarthy says drug use among inmates has fallen from 33% to 20% in that time.

The Department of Corrections and ESR have signed an agreement that will allow continued drug testing of the prison population for a further two years.

Phil McCarthy says ESR began random drug tests on behalf of the Department in an effort to reduce drug use.

“We are pleased with the reduction in drug use among the prison population over the past four years.

“However it remains unacceptably high, and is something we are committed to stamping out,” says Mr McCarthy.

ESR Chief Executive Dr John Hay says the agreement will continue a partnership between Corrections and ESR that has been very successful to date.

“Every year ESR receives nearly 10,000 samples taken from prison inmates for analysis.

“ESR has recently achieved accreditation under International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) – so far the only laboratory in New Zealand accredited specifically for drugs of abuse testing,” says Dr Hay.

IANZ, the sole organisation in New Zealand responsible for accreditation of laboratories, annually inspects accredited laboratories.

John Hay says innovation is a key reason for ESR’s success in all aspects of its work.

“In the case of drug detection, we are at the leading edge of method development for designer drugs and advanced techniques involving saliva and hair analysis,” he says.

John Hay says ESR is focused on helping make New Zealand’s communities and environment safe.

“One way of doing this is through continuing to assist the Department of Corrections with drug testing of prison inmates,” says Dr Hay.


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