Forensic drug profiling : a tool for intelligence-led policing
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Forensic science is mainly focused on generating evidence for judicial proceedings. However, it has been recognised that a significant gap exists between the potential of forensic science and its actual use. The current situation still tends to restrain forensic scientists within their specialisation, reinforcing the concept of centralised laboratories distant from and with no direct connections to police organisations. A change of perspective is required in order to fully utilise the potential of forensic science at the earliest stages of the forensic process. This change is slowly happening but is still in its infancy. Vast information about the criminal environment and criminal activity exists and could potentially be used as a key element in an intelligence perspective. This research focuses on the potential of forensic traces in an intelligence perspective. The study starts with a specific focus on the use of 3,4-methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA) and methylamphetamine (MA) profiles in an intelligence-led perspective. Using Australian Federal Police (AFP) case data, it was demonstrated that chemical profiling of illicit drugs can be used to go beyond simply refuting or confirming a connection between cases. It was shown that the use of only one profiling technique was adequate to obtain more timely intelligence products that could be used in an operational intelligence perspective. The process developed can be extended to other traces and further general developments are required to address persistent challenges to ensure the progress of the discipline as well as its widespread implementation in the future. A collaboration and comparative analysis was thus undertaken between two forensic intelligence approaches developed independently in Australia and in Europe regarding the monitoring of apparently very different kind of problems: illicit drugs and false identity documents. A general and multi-commodity model was proposed and it is believed that this model could guide the use of any forensic case data in an intelligence-led perspective.
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