Manchester Metropolitan University's Research Repository

    In-situ Detection of Psychoactive Substances in a Custodial Setting

    Sutcliffe, Oliver ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3781-7754 and Costello, Andrew (2018) In-situ Detection of Psychoactive Substances in a Custodial Setting. In: ICPA 20th AGM and Conference, 21 October 2018 - 26 October 2018, Montreal, Canada.

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    Arguably Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is the most chemically specific spectroscopic method. It is widely used in specialist labs to determine chemical structures but is not used outside of these labs for two main reasons: cost, both of the instrumentation and the on-going maintenance, and the need for expert staff to acquire and interpret the data. Removing the need for expertise requires that both data acquisition and data processing must be greatly simplified, if not actually reduced to single button, “black box” functionality. It is almost impossible to carry out such simplifications, however for specific well-defined problems bespoke solutions can be created. One such problem is the in-situ detection of illicit drugs and new psychoactive substances (NPS). The system co-developed by Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and Oxford Instruments based on the Pulsar 60 MHz bench-top NMR spectrometer combines “single button” data acquisition with fully automated data analysis and compound identification routine. The prototype has been in use in the Home Office licensed laboratory at MMU for over 18 months where it has been available for identifying street samples seized within custodial environments and the results cross-validated by standard chromatographic methods. In this presentation we will report the findings from prison-based trial with regards to the efficacy of the system to detect substances of concern and the results from the trial with regards to the potential impact of the system on operational protocols, harm-reduction and prisoner/staff well-being.

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