The presence of licit and illicit drugs in police stations and their implications for workplace drug testing

Gregory S. Doran, Ralph Deans, Carlo De Filippis, Chris Kostakis, Julia A. Howitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The presence of licit and illicit drug residues on surfaces was studied in 10 police stations and a central drug evidence store in New South Wales, Australia, with the results compared to similar surfaces in four public buildings (to establish a community baseline). The results of almost 850 workplace surface swabs were also compared to the outcome of drug analysis in urine and hair samples volunteered by police officers. Surfaces were swabbed with alcohol and the swabs were extracted and analysed by LC–MS/MS. Low level concentrations of the more commonly used drugs were detected at four public sites and one restricted access police office facility. Surface swabs taken in 10 city and country police stations yielded positive results for a broader suite of drugs than at background sites however 75–93% of the positive drug results detected in police stations were below 40ng, which is only slightly greater than the largest background result measured in the current study. This study indicates that contamination issues are more likely to be focussed in higher risk areas in police stations, such as counters and balances in charge areas, and surfaces within drug safes although front reception counters also returned surface contamination. All 64 urine samples collected in this study were negative, while only 2 of the 11 hair samples collected from donors resulted in trace concentrations for cocaine, but not its metabolite benzoylecgonine. Positive hair samples were only obtained from police donors in very high risk jobs, indicating that the exposure risk is low. Minor changes to the materials used as work surfaces, and some procedural changes in police stations and large evidence stores are suggested to decrease the likelihood of drugs contaminating work surfaces, thereby reducing the potential exposure of police officers to drugs in the workplace.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-136
Number of pages12
JournalForensic Science International
Early online dateJul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


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