Submission to Joint Committee on Human Rights on Drug Testing on Arrest

Release has submitted evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights in relation to the Criminal Justice Bill 2023. The Bill, if passed, will amend several pieces of existing legislation to allow police to subject people to a drugs test upon arrest for any drug, and in relation to an as yet unknown list of offences that can be specified under further legislative changes. An additional amendment tabled during the Legislative Committee stage of the Bill’s passage would allow police to undertake non-intimate tests outside of the police station.

Those that test positive can be referred for treatment, and punished further if they do not attend.

This represents a huge shift from the status quo, where police are only able to test for Class A drugs, namely heroin and crack-cocaine, where they believe use of those drugs is linked to the commission of violent or acquisitive offences.

In our evidence, we submitted that the Bill’s framework engages Article 8 (Right to Respect for Family and Private Life) and Article 3 (Prohibition of Inhuman and Degrading Treatment) in conjunction with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination). We argued that the government’s justification that the Bill’s measures can be justified to detect and prevent crime was fundamentally flawed, that the measures are grossly disproportionate and will further exacerbate the racial discrimination embedded in drugs policing.”