New touch screen technology to reach drug offenders tested

West Midlands Police are taking part in a three-month trial to improve the contact they have with drug misusing offenders.

Oct 6, 2005
By David Howell

West Midlands Police are taking part in a three-month trial to improve the contact they have with drug misusing offenders.

Using touch-screen technology the Home Office pilot project Treatment: The Works (T: TW) aims to support the national Drug Interventions Program (DIP) that hopes to improve communication with drug offenders as they move through the criminal justice system.

The system uses touch-screen information points and an Internet site to improve understanding about the drug programme and related treatment issues. A prototype of the system was tested this summer in two areas – Smethwick (West Midlands) and Islington (London). Twenty touch screen information points were used to deliver information via drugs workers in police custody suites, magistrates’ courts, prisons, probation offices and treatment providers. The content included audio and visual case studies from active and previous drug users within the scheme.

Mr Bob Baxter, DIP Programme Director for West Midlands Police, said: “The largely positive reaction from drugs workers, professionals and end-users shows that T: TW is a welcome tool, complementing the role of drugs workers and helping drug misusing offenders to engage more effectively and readily with the programme. A particularly positive element of the trial is that no keyboard skills are required to operate the touch screen and multiple language options can be loaded into the computer.

“We have learnt a lot about interacting with a hard-to-reach audience through the trial phase and whether or not the info screens are rolled out nationally in all DIP police custody blocks The DIP is now in a stronger position to help people make the most of opportunities to access treatment.

“Our involvement with the trial shows that West Midlands Police and the regional DIP team are committed to improving interaction with drug users in all formats, so we can help more and more offenders break the chain of drugs-crime-prison, and ultimately make communities safer and reduce crime.” For more information about the DIP visit

www.westmidlands.police.uk/dip

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