Interviewing and Drug Testing of Arrestees in Scotland: A Pilot of the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Methodology (ADAM) - Research Findings

DescriptionThis pilot was undertaken to assess the feasibility of employing the ADAM methodology within Scotland.
ISBN
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateJuly 25, 2000
Crime and Criminal Justice Research Findings No. 48Interviewing and Drug Testing of Arrestees in Scotland: A Pilot of the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Methodology (ADAM)

Neil McKeganey1, Clare Connelly2, Janusz Knepil3, John Norrie4, Lesley Reid1

1 Centre for Drug Misuse Research, University of Glasgow
2 School of Law, University of Glasgow
3 Department Biochemistry, Gartnaval General Hospital
4 Robertson Centre for Biostatistics, University of Glasgow

The interviewing and drug testing of arrestees (the ADAM methodology) is the main means of monitoring the link between drug misuse and crime in the United States. This pilot was undertaken to assess the feasibility of employing the ADAM methodology within Scotland. Interviews were conducted with 427 arrestees (220 in Strathclyde and 207 in Fife) and urine samples were collected from 66% of eligible arrestees. Information was obtained on arrestees' use of legal and illegal drugs, drug injecting, sharing of injecting equipment, drug dependence, involvement in criminal activities, access to weapons, involvement in violence, and self-perceived need for treatment. The pilot has shown that it is possible to employ the ADAM methodology within Scotland.

Main Findings

  • The pilot confirmed that it is possible to apply the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) methodology within Scotland. Interviews were undertaken with 427 arrestees (220 in Strathclyde and 207 in Fife). Urine samples were successfully obtained from 67% of interviewed arrestees in Strathclyde and 65% of interviewed arrestees in Fife.
  • 71% of arrestees' urine samples tested positive. 52% of arrestees tested positive for cannabis; 33% for Benzodiazepines; 31% for opiates; 12% for methadone; and 3% for cocaine.
  • There was a substantial difference in the extent of opiate misuse between male and female arrestees: 26% of male arrestees tested positive for opiates compared to 51% of female arrestees.
  • The level of opiate use was higher in the Scottish pilot than any of the 35 areas of the US ADAM programme (ADAM 1999).
  • 25% of arrestees stated that they had been in receipt of illegal income within the last 30 days.
  • 43% of injectors said they had passed on injecting equipment within the previous 3 days.
  • 25% of arrestees stated that they had either owned or had access to a gun; amongst current injectors 37% reported having access to a gun.
  • 65% of arrestees thought there was a connection between illegal drugs and violence and 93% between alcohol and violence.

Introduction

Within Scotland there is a clear policy commitment to reducing the occurrence of drug related crime. At present there is a lack of objective data on the extent of the link between drug misuse and crime and of how this may vary across Scotland. The situation in this respect is very different to that in the United States where a national programme of interviewing and drug testing arrestees (ADAM) provides essential information on the link between drug misuse and crime. The first UK pilot of the ADAM methodology was undertaken in 1998 in England and Wales and revealed that 61% of arrestees were positive for illegal drugs. Between June and November 1999 a Scottish pilot of the ADAM methodology was undertaken in Strathclyde and Fife. The principal aim of this pilot was to assess the feasibility of applying the ADAM methodology within Scotland.

Arrestees were included in this pilot study only if they could provide informed consent to participate in the research. Arrestees were excluded: if they were aged under 16 or aged over 16 but under a supervision requirement under the Children (Scotland) Act; if they were unable to provide informed consent; if in the view of custody staff they posed a risk of violence to the interviewer; if in the view of the custody officer an interview might interfere with an ongoing police investigation; if they had been arrested on suspicion of murder; and if they had been arrested in connection with a drink driving offense. An absolute precondition of this research was that no arrestee was kept longer in police custody for the purposes of participating in this research.

Interviewers were based within participating police stations over an 18-hour period seven days a week for 25 days in Strathclyde and 40 days in Fife. All interviewers were required to undergo a police check and to sign the Official Secrets Act. Arrestees agreeing to participate in this research were asked to sign consent forms relating to being interviewed and providing a urine sample. Completed interview schedules and urine samples were linked using a unique number system.

An interview schedule similar to that used in the English ADAM pilot was developed for this pilot. This instrument requested information on the background characteristics of the arrestee; his or her use of legal and illegal drugs; drug injecting and sharing of injecting equipment; drug dependence; use of treatment services; previous involvement in criminal activities; previous arrest history; access to and ownership of weapons including guns; and involvement in domestic violence. Interviews were conducted with 427 arrestees (82% males and 18% females). The total number of individuals interviewed represented 58% of eligible arrestees.

Self-Reported Drug Misuse

71% of arrestees stated that they had used cannabis within the last 12 months and 50% within the last 3 days. 31% of arrestees stated that they had used heroin within the last 12 months and 20% within the last 3 days. 43% of arrestees stated that they had used amphetamines within the last 12 months and 6% within the last 3 days. LSD was reported as having been used in the last 12 months by 11% of arrestees and by 1% within the last 3 days. 32% of arrestees stated that they had used Ecstasy within the last 12 months and 5% stated that they had done so within the last 3 days.

Overall, 26% of arrestees reported having injected drugs at some point in the past and 22% reported having done so within the last 12 months. The extent of drug injecting was higher amongst drug misusing arrestees in Strathclyde (32%) than drug misusing arrestees in Fife (20%). Within the English ADAM study 14% of arrestees had injected within the past 12 months.

33% of drug injecting arrestees reported having passed on injecting equipment in the last 12 months and, of those who had passed on injecting equipment within the last 12 months, 43% had done so within the last 3 days. 20% of injecting drug using arrestees reported having used others' injecting equipment within the last 12 months and, of those, 43% had done so within the last 3 days.

Overall 52% of arrestees reported having been dependent upon legal or illegal drugs in the past and 40% stated that they felt recently dependent upon legal or illegal drugs.

Urine Test Results for Drug Misuse

71% of arrestees' urine samples tested positive. 52% of samples tested positive for cannabis; 33% for Benzodiazepines; 31% for opiates; 12% for methadone; 8% for amphetamines; and 3% tested positive for cocaine. Opiate use was much more widespread amongst female (51%) than male arrestees (26%). The level of opiate misuse identified in the Scottish ADAM pilot was significantly greater than that recorded in all but one of the five English ADAM pilot sites and was higher than that recorded in any of the 35 US ADAM sites.

Drugs and Offending Behaviour

79% of arrestees said they had been previously arrested within the last 5 years. Amongst current injectors, 94% said they had been arrested in the last 5 years and 75% had been arrested in the last 12 months. Amongst non-injecting drug users, 82% said they had been arrested in the last 5 years and 62% in the last 12 months. Amongst arrestees not using any illegal drugs 57% said they had been arrested in the last 5 years and 34% in the last 12 months. 25% of arrestees said they had been in prison in the last 12 months.

The most common offense that arrestees reported having committed in the past was having stolen from a shop (reported by 58% of arrestees) followed by selling stolen goods (reported by 46% of arrestees). 28% of arrestees reported having stolen from a shop in the last 12 months and 26% reported having sold stolen goods in the last 12 months. There appears to be a clear and consistent relationship between the level of an arrestee's drug use and his or her offending behaviour. Taking theft from a shop, for example, this was reported by 87% of current injectors, by 57% of non-injecting drug users, and by 32% of arrestees who had not used any illegal drugs in the last 12 months. A similar pattern existed in relation to a wide range of other offences.

Weapons

Overall, 25% of arrestees reported that they either owned or had access to a gun: this was reported by 37% of current injectors; by 25% of non-injecting drug users; and by 11% of individuals not having used any illegal drugs over the last 12 months. 26% of arrestees reported having carried a knife or other weapon when committing an offense: this was reported by 33% of current injectors; by 28% of non-injecting drug users; and by 10% of non drug users.

Drugs and Violence

93% of arrestees thought that there was a connection between alcohol and violence and 65% of arrestees stated that, in their opinion, there was a connection between illegal drugs and violence.

Treatment

23% of arrestees had received treatment in the past for drug misuse and 13% were currently receiving such treatment. 11% of arrestees had received treatment for an alcohol problem in the past and 4% were currently receiving treatment for an alcohol problem. 15% of arrestees stated that they would like to receive treatment for alcohol-related problems and 35% of arrestees stated that they would like to receive treatment in relation to their drug misuse. This suggests that there may be substantial unmet need for substance misuse treatment within this population.

Conclusion

This research has shown that it is possible to employ the arrestee drug abuse monitoring methodology within Scotland. In any wider application of the methodology, the researchers suggest that consideration should be given to meeting the costs of providing dedicated security cover during the interviewing process. The provision of such security cover by a police officer or force support officer would almost certainly increase the rate of recruitment of arrestees.

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