Kiwi scientists are wrapping up a week-long training course with Tongan police in the fight against drugs in the Pacific.
ESR designed the course to give Tongan Police hands-on, scientific training so they’re better equipped to identify cannabis.
The course is being delivered by two of ESR’s forensic chemists who are in Nuku’alofa this week.
Seven officers have been upskilled in two different techniques to identify cannabis; microscopic examination of the plant and a chemical test not yet being used in Tonga.
The chemical test will allow the officers to confirm the identification, particularly for smaller, fragmented plant matter not easily identifiable using a microscope.
ESR’s Forensic Chemistry Manager Kevan Walsh says the initiative is part of a concerted effort in Tonga to reduce harm created by illicit drugs.
“The aim is to introduce forensic procedures and quality control when examining suspected cannabis. Once the officers are trained, they’re be able to examine and identify cannabis and will gain skills to give evidence in course as expert witnesses,” he said.
The training package was created by ESR specifically for Tonga and reflects the ongoing partnership the two organisations have held for a number of years.