Mugs, Thugs And Drugs – Tom Richardson – 28th July 2014

Yes, a catchy and intriguing title which became clearer as the presentation developed.

Tom retired in 2001 from the Toxicology Laboratories in Manchester providing services to hospitals, the police, forensic science services and pathologists from Crewe to Kendal.   He helped with autopsies and cases where there was a need to detect poisons, examine cases of drug abuse and non criminal forensic work. In short,  his work involved the examination of body parts and body fluids to assist in establishing the causes of death and illness.  The detection equipment used  had developed considerably during his career and he described the features of such exotic sounding equipment( at least to us)  from the simple spectroscope to the Hartridge reversion spectroscope,  from the latest scanning spectrophotometer to gas chromatographs,  All of which were used to analyse blood, urine and other fluids.

He illustrated his work by describing several contrasting case studies and the title  ‘Mugs, Thugs and Drugs’ became much clearer.

The studies involved problems which sadly are as common today as they were then.  Problems such as child neglect, poor parenting, binge drinking, drug abuse (or more precisely mistaken drug abuse), pill popping and the sadness of the attention seeking disorder.  All solved with advanced analytical techniques. The talk prompted many questions from the floor.

An interesting morning.