Essex police to use funds from criminals used to buy drug testing kits

Pc Winfield with drug wipe.

Pc Winfield with drug wipe. - Credit: Archant

A scheme to help catch drivers under the influence of drugs using cash seized from criminals has proven such a success that Essex Police is investing in more testing kits.

Drug testing wipes were first used back in April this year, with an initial 250 purchased in Essex to coincide with new legislation that made it an offence to drive on illegal and prescription drugs above a set level.

The kits, approved by the Home Office, have been so successful that during Essex Police’s Summer Anti-Drink and Drug Driving Campaign from June 1 to June 30 ten drivers out of 26 tested for illegal drugs were found to be under the influence.

Now Essex Police is to buy 700 more wipes at a cost of £12,600, which will be paid for with money seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Chief Insp Nick Lee said: “These kits have been used by our road policing officers and casualty reduction section and have proved to be a cost effective and simple way of testing for drugs.

“Drugs, just like alcohol, can affect reaction times and awareness, potentially putting lives at risk.

“We will use any legislation and tools available to us to take action against drivers who have a total disregard for the safety of other road users.”

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In a recent case, Christopher Tritton, 40, an engineer from Bankside Close, Chelmsford, failed a roadside drugs test after he was seen driving erratically and was charged with driving with a proportion of a specified controlled drug above the legal limit.

He admitted the offence when he appeared at Basildon Magistrates’ Court on September 2.

He was fined £400, banned from driving for 14 months and ordered to pay £85 costs, a £40 victim surcharge and a £150 criminal courts charge.

Anyone convicted can receive a minimum 12-month driving ban, a criminal record, a fine of up to £5,000 or up to six months in prison or both.

To give information about someone who regularly drives under the influence of drugs call Essex Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. You can also pass information to Crimestoppers via an online form at

In the event of an emergency, or if drug driving is in progress, call 999.