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Young offenders in Southwark to be drug tested

Teenagers in Southwark who are charged with drug-related crimes are to be tested for class A drugs, Home Office Minister Caroline Flint has announced.

As part of the Government's drive to get drug users into treatment and break
the links between drugs and crime, the new scheme will also be piloted in two other London boroughs -Camden and Newham- and seven other areas from August.

Fourteen to seventeen year-olds who are charged for a 'trigger offence', such as burglary, car crime and theft, will be tested for heroin, crack and cocaine. Those testing positive will be referred to specialist youth workers.

Arrest referral schemes dedicated to young people are already in place in
the pilot areas. These schemes offer support and guidance to all young people who have been arrested. In particular, all those testing positive will be referred to a specialist youth worker, within the local scheme, who will assess and help to address their needs.

Caroline Flint said: "By testing teenagers in Camden. Newham and Southwark who
have been charged with offences that are often linked to drugs, we can
identify young people at risk of developing serious drug problems early on
and get them treatment and support. We know that young offenders are more
likely to use drugs than other young people. We need to intervene and stop
class A drug abuse as early as possible."

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