Lillian's Law drug testing kit approved by Home Office
A TESTING kit for use by police to detect drug drivers – a key aim of the Advertiser's Lillian's Law campaign – has been approved by the Home Office.
The device is able detect cannabis – the substance taken by the speeding driver who killed 14-year-old Lillian Groves outside her New Addington home in June 2010.
Her death led the Advertiser and her family to launch a campaign, which included a call for the introduction of roadside testing devices.
That goal moved a step closer to reality this week with the approval of a device for use in police stations.
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The Home Office said the saliva testing kit, made by German medical technology firm Draeger, would "strip out bureaucracy and speed up justice" by removing the need for police to call a doctor before demanding a blood sample.
Prime Minister David Cameron committed to introducing equipment for use in stations by the end of 2012, following a meeting with Lillian's family and the Advertiser in November 2011.
He also promised to review the law on drug-driving, leading a new offence to be included in the Queen's Speech in May.
Micheala Groves, Lillian's aunt, said: "Ultimately there should be a drug-testing device in every police car, which is what the Prime Minister said needs to happen.
"But if it has to begin in police stations, then fine, even if it's just to alleviate the need to call medical staff in.
"The campaign is not just for us, it's to make sure no other families have to go through the same situation. Towards that end, this is a big step in the right direction."
Draeger's device, the Drug Test 5000, can detect THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. It was among a number of kits assessed by the Home Office's Centre for Applied Science and Technology, which will now look at other pieces of equipment capable of identifying other substances.
Lillian's parents, Natasha and Gary Groves, tested the Drugalyser after meeting UK distributors Modern Health Systems last year.
Natasha said: "I wasn't surprised Draeger was chosen because their kit was very good.
"It was portable, so could be used in the police stations and the roadside, and it's an all in one unit which ticks all the boxes and does everything you need."
The device will complement new legislation, contained within the Crime and Courts Bill currently making its way through Parliament, which will make it an automatic offence to drive if you have certain drugs in your system, removing the current need to prove impairment.
The penalty for the new offence, expected to be in place by next year, will be a maximum of six months in prison and a fine of up to £5,000, with an automatic driving ban of at least 12 months.
An expert panel tasked with exploring the implications of the new law, as well as which drugs it should cover, is due to publish its report imminently.