Forensic toxicology for use in criminal and private cases
Forensic Access offers toxicology services to organisations involved in the criminal prosecution and defence sector, to businesses and to private individuals.
Forensic toxicology involves the study of substances that may be toxic or indeed frank poisons in a legal context. It also involves the detection of such substances (and their breakdown products) in the human body. The words “toxic substances and poisons” covers an enormous range of substances, for example:
- medicines and pharmaceutical products
- drugs of abuse – legal and illegal
- natural products
- volatile substances
The forensic toxicologist needs not only to understand the chemical make-up of such substances, but also how the body breaks these down (metabolism) and into what substances, as it is often these metabolites for which the forensic toxicologist will need to search. Further knowledge is then needed of where these substances may be found in a human body – different organs will retain these substances for different times and in different quantities. Forensic toxicologists most usually have to deal with blood, urine, liver, hair and brain samples.
As well as the biological effects (pharmacology) and chemistry of poisons and toxic substances, the forensic toxicologist also has to understand how to detect and quantify such substances and isolate them from the often complex biological matrices. Developing analytical methods is a complex and continuously evolving specialism for forensic toxicologists.
Finally, there is then the complex matter of interpreting the results of the analysis and putting these into the context of a case – often a very difficult matter indeed.
The application of forensic toxicology
Forensic toxicology is involved in many different types of cases, from the more simple drink and drug cases, to cases involving suspicious death and murder. The toxicological analyses of hair or urine, for drugs of abuse, is also used in, for example, child care proceedings, where a Court may need to know if a parent is still abusing drugs.
Forensic toxicology is therefore a complex field of forensic science. As it can take many years to develop the skills and experience necessary to deal with the wide range of cases and substances encountered there are very few competent forensic toxicologists who have the necessary experience to support the wide variety of cases with which Forensic Access has to work.
We are very privileged to have Dr Alex Allan as one of our consultants and you can read his profile by clicking on the link below.
Our forensic toxicology experts
|Dr Alex Allan|
Contact Forensic Access
If you want to find out how we can support your major crime work, please contact Forensic Access.