The EU-ACT European project has taken the initiative in Ukraine to work with forensic laboratories to allow them to analyse drugs more qualitatively
Forensic laboratories need certification both nationally to work with their courts, as well as internationally, and must meet the corresponding ISO regulations to do so.
To find out whether the laboratories meet the necessary conditions to be certified, they are normally put through an inter-laboratory exercise or proficiency test.
The EU-ACT project, financed by the European Union and managed by the FIIAPP, has promoted these inter-laboratory exercises. In November of last year 2019, the first inter-laboratory exercise ended, having received the participation of 16 forensic laboratories. Work has already begun on the second of these collaborative exercises to enable the laboratories to obtain the required certifications, and will be done in two groups due to the large number of participants
These certifications are necessary to be able to demonstrate their competence, either at the national level before judges, courts and defences, or internationally when a request for international legal assistance is made. The certifications therefore show that the evidence has been analysed according to international standards following the established methodology.
The aim of this initiative is to plan, establish and evaluate a collaborative drug testing exercise for all member laboratories of the Ukrainian Drug Investigation Work Group, and any other Ukrainian forensic laboratory that wants to join this initiative.
In the absence of appropriate legislation that allows samples of illegal or controlled substances (cocaine, heroin, etc.) to be distributed among laboratories to carry out these scientific exercises, the test will use chemicals and substances commonly used as cutting agents (ibuprofen, talc, aspirin, etc.) for drug traffickers. This approach is considered appropriate and does not detract from the scientific value of the exercise.
The collaboration exercise, or proficiency test, is a tool for learning and harmonisation between laboratories within organisations, as well as a certification need of each institute. This exercise could be the first step in designing future proficiency tests, and also helps participants to assess their problems regarding qualitative and quantitative analyses.
Each laboratory’s participation is anonymous to avoid indicating the situation it is in, whatever the result might be. The laboratories can be compared, but without being identified. The analyses will be made following the routine methods used for each type of sample, so the samples should be used exclusively for the exercise, for the carrying out of internal criticism and to improve methodology and protocols, as well as the mentioned certification.
The aims of this activity include having personnel trained for qualitative and quantitative testing and providing Ukrainian laboratories with a useful tool for self-assessment, among other things.