A COMPANY in the North-East has won Home Office approval for a drug detection kit which will be used by police forces across the country.

The Dräger DrugTest 5000 will be used in police stations to detect cannabis and has been developed by Northumberland-based Draeger Safety UK.

A positive saliva test with the new device means officers will no longer have to call a doctor before asking for a blood sample if they suspect a driver of being on drugs.

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The equipment went through rigorous testing at the Home Office’s centre for applied science and technology.

Further developments are being made to detect other drugs which could impair drivers.

Dräger became the first company in the country to get type approval on an alcohol breathalyser, the Alcotest 80 tube in 1967.

Mark Burrup, of Draeger Safety UK, said: “The rigorous type approval process has confirmed that our device is accurate, reliable and robust.

“We have experience working with police forces across the UK and on a global scale.

“Therefore, we understood the need to develop a product that would be easy to use, reliable and could work in real time, ultimately supporting police officers in their role in this increasingly important area.”

The testing kits are being introduced under a wider crackdown, which will see drug driving become a specific offence.

Offenders will face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to £5,000 as well as an automatic driving ban of at least 12 months.