Alcohol, drugs and toxicology

The alcohol, drugs and toxicology section is responsible for the identification and examination of recovered illegal and legal drugs, as well as the detection of drugs and alcohols in body fluids.


The alcohol team deals with the detection and quantification of alcohol in body fluids and other liquids (for example samples of drinks containing alcohol). Samples are received from drivers suspected of drink driving, and post mortem samples are submitted by the State Pathologist. In more complex cases such as murder and rape, the team is required to give an opinion on an alcohol concentration in the context of other information supplied with regard to estimating what the level may have been at an earlier time.


The drugs team deals with the identification and quantification of controlled and uncontrolled substances. The work involves dealing with bulk and trace samples, interpretive skills, and the provision of intelligence data for PSNI. Where more than drugs evidence is involved, for example where packaging is part of the evidence, the team liaises with other specialists in marks and fingerprints.


The toxicology team deals with the identification and quantification of a wide range of controlled drugs, pharmaceutical preparations, and poisons in body fluids and tissues. Biological samples are submitted by PSNI and the State Pathologist, in a range of case types including suspicious death, murder, rape, drug facilitated sexual assault and driving while under the influence of drugs. The toxicological findings are evaluated in terms of the individual case circumstances. The assessment often involves an estimate of the likely effect that a drug may have had on an individual; often combined with alcohol or other drugs.


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