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2019-99: Continued development of the guideline for substance abuse testing


The Dutch probation service regularly checks the substance use of clients. The process of substance abuse testing differs between institutions and organizations. IVO research institute developed a practical guideline for this process, together with other parties (Wits et al., 2017), in commission of
the Quality Forensic Care (KFZ) programme, (KFZ call 2015-21). The guideline can increase the reliability and quality of substance abuse testing. Nevertheless, in practice, the guideline does not always seem to have been implemented and / or be followed up by professionals. Furthermore,
recent developments make an update of the guideline desirable.

The aim of this project is to prepare an update of the guideline for substance abuse testing in the probation service.
The project consisted of three parts:
1. An inventory of the current bottlenecks in the field of substance abuse testing. We investigated this through an online questionnaire sent to professionals (via the SVG);
2. An inventory of the state of affairs regarding the Ruma-marker, a marker that can be used to verify whether a submitted urine sample is actually from a client or not. We created this through a literature research, an online questionnaire (at the Salvation Army Youth Protection and Probation), and an internal evaluation (at the Dutch Probation Service);
3. Interviews with experts on substance abuse testing at the National Police and NFI.
An important result of this project is that the guideline on substance abuse testing is little known among professionals. Therefore, in a follow-up project, attention should be paid to the implementation of the guideline. Furthermore, the experiences of professionals with the Rumamarker are, in general, positive. The use of this marker could possibly solve some of the perceived bottlenecks in the field of substance abuse testing. For example, it increases the flexibility of testing with regards to the location and time. It should be investigated whether a central tendering procedure is desirable for purchasing of tests and, if so, under what conditions. Joint purchasing of the Rumamarker may save costs. Finally, among professionals working in forensic addiction care, there seems to be a need for better cooperation with the probation service regarding substance abuse testing.
More generally, it can be concluded that it is important to pay attention to methodical actions and skills, i.e. how the advice in the guideline should be applied. In combination with the unfamiliarity of the guide in the field, the conclusion is that a training offer is more meaningful than the further development of the guideline.

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