Notices 10-06 Item 2 – The Metropolitan Police Service
The Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) Covert Drug Purchases Database: Monitoring the price and purity of heroin, cocaine and other controlled drugs
(CR 216/04/17 and DP7/05/1)
The purpose of this Notice is to set out the Specialist Crime Directorate’s (SCD) criteria and procedure for monitoring the price and purity of heroin (crude diamorphine), cocaine (including crack) and other controlled drugs. Analyses of these data will:
improve the understanding by MPS of the price and purity of specific drugs across London
support Operation Paramount – a national drug price index that is collated by the National Criminal Intelligence Service and will be incorporated into the functions of the new Serious and Organised Crime Agency
help MPS to have a greater understanding of drugs markets
help the SCD Central Drug Trafficking Database (CDTD) Project team to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the tactic of covert drug purchases as a means for disrupting those organised crime networks involved in the trafficking of specific drugs
assist the courts in determining appropriate sentences
The results of this research will be incorporated into the National Intelligence Model (NIM) strategic and tactical assessments produced by the CDTD Project team, and made available to MPS staff. The research findings will also be available to statutory and non-statutory agencies working with the MPS.
Drug price and purity information provides important intelligence. For intelligence to have true value, it must come from a reliable source and be as accurate as possible. As prices and purities vary considerably, the presentation of aggregate data must use the best statistical techniques available. Research has shown that information from police test purchase operations is the most reliable and accurate data source available. A methodology to collate and present this data has been developed after a pilot project in 2004. The procedure to be followed is outlined below, which has been agreed with Kevin O’Leary, Detective Chief Inspector of SCD11(10) Covert Operations.
Recording Price and Purity of Specified Controlled Drugs: Procedure
Details of all (starting from Sunday 1 January 2) covert drug purchases will be recorded on the Covert Drug Purchase (CDP) form. Blank CDP forms can be found on the MPS Forms intranet site (form number 196). An example of a completed CPD form is at Annex 1 of this Notice. The responsibility for completing the CDP form will rest with the police officer deputed to act as the Exhibits Officer for the duration of the Test Purchase Operation (TPO) or Undercover Buy Operation (UBO). The form is designed to be completed on screen so that it can be sent by e-mail to the Drugs Directorate (SCD3-CDP) for analysis.
One CDP form will be completed for each transaction. So, for example, in the case where a police officer carries out two test purchases from the same offender, at the same location in the course of one day, then the CDP form will be completed twice. In cases where the police officer buys two drugs (say crack and heroin) at the same time and from the same offender, then only one CDP form will be used, but the Exhibits Officer must record the details of both drugs on the form. When completing CDP form, the Exhibits Officer should make every effort to ensure that information is entered in the fields relating to drug type(s), amount(s), price(s), police exhibit reference(s) and exhibit bag number(s), weight(s) and purity, and that the details recorded match those on the laboratory form 1 and the witness statement provided by the forensic scientist. It is accepted that, in many cases, the police officers involved in the TPO or UBO will not know the identity of the person selling the drug. In these cases, the Exhibits Officer will not be able to complete the fields relating to the offender (for example name, age, date of birth, place of birth, nationality and CRO/Police National Computer number).
As soon as the result of the forensic analysis is known, the relevant fields on the CDP form will be completed. The Exhibits Officer will then send the completed CDP form to the group e-mail address SCD3-CDP using the MPS AWARE system.
The Senior Investigating Officer in charge of the TPO or UBO is responsible for ensuring that there is no undue delay in the completion of CPD form.
On receipt, the CPD form will be reviewed. If any errors or discrepancies are found the Exhibits Officer will be contacted by return e-mail.
The information relating to prices, purity, drug type and so on will be scrutinised, validated and entered onto the SCD Covert Drug Purchase Database. It will be analysed and the results will be incorporated into the NIM strategic and tactical assessments produced by the CDTD Project team.
Covert Drug Purchase
For the purpose of this Notice, the term ‘covert drug purchase’ means:
the purchase of any controlled drug
the purchase of any non-controlled drug (for example ephedrine, caffeine, aspirin)
the purchase of any innocuous substance (for example chalk, soap, plaster)
by a Test Purchase Officer or an Undercover Officer whilst acting as such.
The term ‘controlled drug’ means any drug mentioned in Schedule 2, Part I, II or III to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
This Notice is of particular relevance to:
Test Purchase Officers
Officers designated as Exhibits Officer in operations involving the covert purchasing of controlled drugs
Senior Officers planning, supervising and managing operations involving the covert purchases of controlled drugs
Criminal Justice Unit Managers and their deputies
Staff in the Drugs Directorate
Staff in the SCD11 (Covert Policing Unit)
For more information regarding this Notice please contact Paul Richards, Inspector on extension 64054 or by e-mail.