New drugs testing kits introduced

Thursday, 02 July, 2009

Drugs testing kits are set to save Suffolk Police thousands of pounds in forensic submission costs, as the county becomes one of the first in the country to adopt the NPIA (National Policing Improvement Agency) new Evidential Drug Identification Testing (EDIT) programme in police stations.

The kits, which came into use in the county at the end of May 2009, mean officers who have been trained will be able to test a tiny amount of the substance straight away - and get an immediate result that can be used as evidence in a possession case at a magistrate's court.

More than 30 police officers and staff from the Constabulary's Offender Management Units and District Support Teams have been trained to carry out the tests, which should ensure the kits can be used at locations across Suffolk, day or night.

The two kits - one designed to test for drugs including heroin and amphetamine, the other for cocaine - work comparatively simply. In one a tiny amount of the substance is placed into a small plastic bag and then a capsule of the indicator chemical liquid broken inside the bag. The liquid then changes colour according to the type of drug present.

In the other a tiny amount of the substance is placed in a small bottle with a chemical liquid and shaken. A few drops are then placed on an indicator slide (which appears similar to a pregnancy testing kit) and lines appear to indicate a positive result for cocaine.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Mattin said the kits would have many benefits.

"While the kits have been trialled in other force areas, Suffolk will be one of the first in the country to use them as standard representing a big saving for the Constabulary, cutting the costs of forensic submissions, and the time between arrest and charge."

Dr Simon Bramble, Head of Police Science and Forensics Unit at the NPIA, said: "We
congratulate Suffolk Police on moving quickly to allow officers in police stations to use this technology and urge more forces around the country to do the same."

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