Simultaneous Profiling and Analysis of Street Heroin (SPASH)

Research Institution / Organisation

Staffordshire University

In Collaboration With

Staffordshire Police

Principal Researcher

Miss Thulashija Sriskantharajah

Project Start Date

May 2014

Research Context

‚ÄčThis research is based on simultaneous analysis and profiling of illicit drugs, mainly heroin samples, using currently rarely used instrumental techniques.
The profiling of heroin provides valuable insights into:

  1. links between seizures
  2. dealer networks and 
  3. manufacture and trafficking routes.

Current practice is to only profile a subset of those heroin seizures that are analysed. The analysis involves qualitative and quantitative determinations using techniques such as Gas Chromatography- Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) and/ or Liquid Chromatography- Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS). Profiling of suspected drugs requires a further evaluation of the chromatographic and spectroscopic data along with further testing, for example the use of Inductively Coupled Plasma- Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) for trace metal analysis.


The aim is to use an alternative technology that will generate profiling as a by-product of analysis, meaning that all samples analysed by this means will also be profiled by default. Furthermore, processes to reduce the opportunities for evidence contamination and better manage health and safety risks at the crime scene and the laboratory will be investigated.


The significantly enhanced intelligence anticipated by applying this methodology could serve to disrupt existing heroin supply and distribution networks, leading to crime prevention.

Research Methodology

Street heroin samples obtained from different police forces will be analysed using current techniques followed by the proposed technique for a comparison. A simple sample preparation method will be followed and the data obtained will be subject to identification and quantification analysis along with profiling.

Statistical methods such as Principle Component Analysis will be employed to present the data.

Interim reports and publications

‚ÄčNot available

Date due for completion

January 2020
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