GMP supporting communities this weekend with developing drugs warning system

Greater Manchester Police warns enforcement action is being taken in response to breaches of Covid-19 restrictions and will be further increased if necessary

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) are supporting communities this weekend with a dedicated team in the event of any drug-related incidents.

Thanks to the ongoing partnership known as MANDRAKE, GMP will be utilising systems at Manchester Metropolitan to analyse any substances officers may come across and advise other partners accordingly.

MANchester DRugAnalysis and Knowledge Exchange (MANDRAKE) was introduced to help GMP understand the progression of psychoactive substances that are in circulation on the illegal drugs market.

This helps to inform partner agencies about what is on the street and can inform GMP of their potency so local communities can be supported accordingly to reduce harm.

GMP and Manchester Metropolitan have worked in partnership since 2017 to help shape the understanding of new and emerging drug trends across Greater Manchester, and have continued to work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, providing up-to-date intelligence through the testing of seized drug samples found on the illicit market.

As COVID-19 restrictions have now lifted, the partnership will continue working across Greater Manchester to provide intelligence on the illegal drugs market to support and protect the most vulnerable in our society.

PC Andy Costello, who helped to create the project said: “Since its launch MANDRAKE at Manchester Metropolitan has tested a total of 3,392 samples from across the Greater Manchester region, has provided back-of-house testing to promote harm reduction and supported GMP operations at numerous local events. Nine public alerts and numerous professional alerts have been issued based on results from the system and the partnership has provided rapid analysis (within 2-3 hours) in six drug-related critical incidents.

“Utilising this system means we can provide accurate information to services that can not only shape clinical treatment in critical incidents, but also allow others to share and prevent harm to those that are most at risk.

“We are also using this system to link in with the latest new technologies which allow us to constantly develop and support our communities whilst knowledge sharing with other forces so they can set up their own early warning systems.

“We expect that the first weekend after restrictions were removed will be busy and whilst we appreciate everyone is keen to enjoy themselves, we’d like to encourage those who are out and about during the summer to stay safe.

“If you have any concerns, please get in touch with ourselves via LiveChat or the reporting function on our website. Always dial 999 in an emergency.”

Dr Oliver Sutcliffe, Senior Lecturer in Psychopharmaceutical Chemistry at Manchester Met and Director of MANDRAKE, said: “Our team of scientists are extremely proud to be both a key part of the Greater Manchester Drugs Early Warning System and the GMP night time economy plan as COVID restrictions are lifted. 

“We hope that our laboratory, which will be working closely with partner organisations in all ten Greater Manchester boroughs, will be able to rapidly provide robust data to help improve drug awareness amongst our communities, and enhance and inform harm reduction schemes across the city region.”

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