Interventions such as drug testing are thought to have a positive effect in the reduction of drug-related crime. As a result, DATs have become an increasingly important weapon at all levels of the criminal justice systems, particularly across northern Europe. DATs are not restricted to offenders; officers may also be randomly tested for drug abuse owing to their potential contact with drugs. As a result, prospective candidates looking to join the prison service or police force may also be subjected to a drug screen as part of their pre-employment assessment.

Just as drugs are easily obtainable in the community, drugs are also readily available in prisons. Being in prison or in young-offender institutes has never equated to the total cessation of drug abuse. According to recent EMCDDA data (8), approximately one-third of the entire European inmate population in 2002 had admitted to consuming drugs while in prison. Prisons in Germany and Spain were believed to have the highest rates of drug abuse. In contrast, in countries like the United Kingdom, where mandatory drug testing (MDT) is carried out in conjunction with cell searches, a significantly lower rate of drug abuse has been recorded. Nevertheless, detecting drug abuse among inmates remains difficult and time-consuming.

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