In the field of drug testing, a variety of factors regarding drug testing has been explored that influence how data is, and can be, processed for use in criminal cases. As a final entry, we look at the area of data collection. This has as much of an influence on the precision of the field as the many aspects mentioned in previous entries around drug testing. The major way in which data collection underpins the field of drug testing is the level of reliability of information on record that could suggests trends in DFSA. If this aspect is to gain credibility, measures need to be implemented to ensure that data is measured and recorded in a standardized way. Which drugs are used, the prevalence of each, their effects on victims – these are all areas that could be made more reliable and become better controlled. A variety of reasons for this, and suggested approaches to improve its value to the field, are outlined below.
Many drugs used in these types of crimes are regulated, but not all. For example, psychotropic drugs such as GHB and antihistamines, are not considered for the same measure of international regulation as some other, seemingly more prevalent drugs. There is evidence that these drugs have been used in DFSA, but difficulties lie in the lack of consideration they are given as influential drugs with criminal benefits to FDC. This allows for these drugs to be far more accessible, especially online, to those with criminal intent. Limited available data means no accurate records exist of when and how they have been used in these types of crimes. Studies need to be done on the drugs speculated as being used for these misconducts so as to gain a better control of their availability, and in order for them to be included on the range of drugs for which testing exists.
As stated, not all drugs with potential for usage in these DFC scenarios are regulated, especially not at an international level, and this makes them too readily accessible and not quantifiable in such cases. Better regulation will go hand in hand with research – the more these drugs and there capacity to be used in DFC and DFSA, the more they can be regulated and become less accessible online. Regulations do rely on open and effective communication between all authorities involved in the investigation and ensuing justice where these cases are concerned. If their usage is recognized as prevalent enough, regulations can be placed on them. Regulations are also not always handled the same way. National regulations can exist where international regulations do not. The need for more standardized measures is important. The data collection procedures used in some countries – for example surveys, responses to charity helplines, governmental statistics, data published by scientists in meetings – need to be standardized to facilitate comparability.
Police records are often generalized; especially in the case of FDSA, where too often they are recorded merely as rape cases with no specificity of drug involvement. This influences the accuracy of records being shared. Between police records, criminal justice transcripts, and lab reports, there needs to be better quantification of information – crimes involving drugs can be better measured if shared information was not based on general outcomes. Forensic laboratories often do not report cases, and not all health Organizations collect data of this nature. If this was to be better managed, major headway could be made in reliable information that could be used effectively in the criminal justice system.
Victim behavior influences the legitimacy of information. For many reasons, victims often do not approach police, hospitals, or other authorities to report such crimes as DFC and DFSA; and in some cases where reports are made, they do not get tested. Hence, even if these authorities are creating records of drugs being used in crimes, the accuracy of the information suffers. Victims are the most profound source, and any missing data would be accessible through public surveys. More accurate data would exist, perhaps, if victims were given a platform to recount the extent to which drugs influenced the crimes they endured.
Experts in the field agree that DFC and DFSA are increasing, but the lack of data – that is not speculative – is no help in proving this case. Some attempts have been made to improve this field of drug testing in criminal cases – the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) has encouraged various organizations to promote research on psychoactive drugs used in sexual assault and criminal intent to measure the usage of drugs, and the behavior of assailants, in an effort to understand which substances are used, internationally controlled or otherwise. However, the data remains unreliable. Improvements in this regard would have major beneficial implications for drug testing in criminal cases.
The content of this article is provided by Connectica, LLC and has not been reviewed by a toxicology expert witness.