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Police double use of narcotests

The number of narcotests carried out by the police has doubled in the last year although complaints have been made about how these are carried out.

Police spokesman Christos Andreou told the Sunday Mail the number of narcotests carried out in 2022 soared to 4,000, double the 2,000 done in 2021.

Andreou confirmed that narcotests are conducted day and night as the force has witnessed drug use throughout.

One driver said he was stopped at 9pm on a Monday night while returning home from the gym in Limassol.

During the seemingly random spot check, the said he tested positive for amphetamines.

Incredulous, he said that’s “a drug I’ve only heard of in movies, and I don’t even know what effects it causes”.

He further stated that during the time he was there another five cars stopped and five drivers tested positive, leading him to question the accuracy and quality of the tests.

Protesting his innocence, the driver was told by the police officer that perhaps his drink had recently been spiked at a club.

But the complainant’s main concern is that they did not issue a written report detailing the incident – “so in theory they can change the description of what happened at any time”.

He also found issue with the procedures of the check, stating that he was never asked to show his driving licence and police officers later claimed that they smelt cannabis in his car and proceeded to check it.

The driver further detailed that the next morning he went to lab for a urine test which returned negative for all drugs, including amphetamine.

“The laboratory technicians told me that the urine test is more reliable than the saliva test, and I then went to the police station where the stop had taken place”.

They then sent him to the central police station which in turn referred him to the traffic police station where he was told he could not submit the negative test as evidence. He further claimed that the police refused to allow him to receive a report showing that had attempted to submit a statement.

The driver also expressed concern that some medicines and certain supplements may throw off the results of such narcotests.

Officers at the scene took a second sample which is then sent to the state labs for confirmation.

As for the next steps, the driver said he was informed by the officer that it can take up to four months for the second sample to be finalised.

Andreou said this normally takes about two months, explaining that the driver’s licence will not be impacted unless that second sample returns positive. That will lead the case to court where the judge will decide on the potential sanctions.

Andreou said the increase in narcotests was deemed necessary by the force as their experience showed increased drug use.

He also said that they are important tool which has led to Cyprus recording the lowest number of deaths from road collisions since the start of data keeping.

The narcotest can detect all types of substances, including cannabis, cocaine, heroin and amphetamines.

The law permitting narcotests, which was passed in 2016 after five years of discussion, states that as well as people driving under the influence of drugs any driver who refuses to give saliva or blood for testing will be committing an offence.

 

 

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