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Drug tests on drivers to increase

The number of drug tests for drivers will increase, more checks for narcotics will be carried out in public places and fines for violations of drug-free zones near schools are likely to increase, the justice ministry said on Tuesday.

“The narcotests for drivers will increase from around 500 to 1,000 a year,” spokeswoman from the ministry Rona Michaelidou told the Cyprus Mail. “This will be achieved by the purchase of a new machine to process the tests for the state lab and hiring two new people. This has been agreed but not yet implemented, it will take a few days, maybe a month.”

Some 75 to 80 per cent of the narcotests are positive, Michaelidou said, but that does not necessarily mean there are a huge number of drug users around, but that the drug squad officers know the signs of drug use, and only those who behave suspiciously are tested.

The additional tests will help to paint a clearer picture. The aim is to collect evidence, numbers and statistics, and to carry out research on who the majority of culprits are and in which areas of Cyprus they are centered. This in turn is going to help police to target drug users more efficiently.

More tests for drivers will be supplemented by an increase of checks and tests in parks and areas where young people gather, the spokeswoman explained.

Already, the drug squad inspects such areas in cooperation with local authorities, but more data are needed in order to prepare a plan to prevent drug use in public places.

Another way to control the drug scene is being drawn up. There are fines for those who use or sell drugs withing 500 metres from schools, but a legislation is being prepared to increase the penalties to deter students from getting involved in drugs, Michaelidou added.

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