Drug testing group wins extension to Home Office contract

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The Independent Online

Cozart, the drug testing company, announced an extension of its contract with the Home Office yesterday, three days after it successfully floated on the junior AIM exchange.

Cozart, the drug testing company, announced an extension of its contract with the Home Office yesterday, three days after it successfully floated on the junior AIM exchange.

The company made its stock market debut on Monday, with its shares priced at 30p. They rose on first-day dealings to 48p and last night closed up 4p to 54.5p.

Cozart's contract extension follows yesterday's Home Office announcement that the number of so-called 'trigger offences', which lead to mandatory drug tests, will be increased. The scheme is also being extended to 14- to 16-year-olds on a trial basis.

The company manufactures drug-testing kits such as RapiScan, a saliva-testing system, which is sold to the police, and hopes to be able to extend its business into Europe with the proceeds from its share issue.

Although the UK and Europe market for corporate drug testing is limited, it is common practice in the US and Cozart hopes for similar increases on this side of the Atlantic.

Civil liberties groups worry that the extension of non-discriminate drug testing will reduce civil liberties and interfere with human rights. Natasha Vromen, at DrugScope, commented that random corporate drug testing represents "managerial prerogative going haywire" and believes that testing by police needs even more government regulation and must be supported by an effective treatment regime.

Liberty, the human rights group, bemoaned the new legislation's extension of a policy which "may result in little old ladies and children being drug-tested after unrelated and minor offences".

In spite of these fears, Cozart is performing strongly on the back of its new contract, and its finance director, Philip Hand, is positive about the company's long-term prospects and expansion plans, citing the expansion of workplace testing as a clear advantage for the company's less intrusive, saliva-based test equipment.

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