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/ Key Forensic Services complete acquisition of drugs on money testing service from Mass Spec Analytical


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Key Forensic Services complete acquisition of drugs on money testing service from Mass Spec Analytical

Key Forensic Services have again strengthened our position as one of the leading forensic service providers in the UK by adding another new, significant string to our already impressive bow.

As of January 2nd, 2020, KFS are delighted to announce that, following a constructive process of negotiations, we have acquired the renowned Drugs on Money testing service from Mass Spec Analytical Limited (MSA).

This is the latest addition to the comprehensive range of accredited forensic science services offered by KFS, and it once again underlines our commitment to maintaining valuable niche services for the benefit of law enforcement agencies within the UK.

MSA, based in Bristol, have been providing testing services for drugs on money to law enforcement agencies, both in the UK and internationally, since the company was formed in 1994.

The evidence they have provided, mostly in support of identifying the proceeds of crime, has been widely accepted by the courts.

It is without question an incredibly valuable service for law enforcement agencies, and KFS are delighted to have made this acquisition.

Furthermore, we are very pleased to welcome to KFS the valuable and experienced scientific and administrative team from MSA. Their addition to our existing team will ensure that all our customers receive the same high-quality service they are accustomed to.

KFS have ensured that this new service will continue to operate from Bristol, under the same processes and procedures. Accreditation to ISO-17025 is transferred to our KFS schedule of accreditation.

MSA will now continue to pursue their core activity of mass spectrometry product development and sales.

KFS ‘honoured’ to provide new service

Key Forensic Services CEO Nigel Withey said: “I am very pleased to announce that Key Forensic Services have acquired the Drugs on Money service from Mass Spec Analytical.

“This is an important development for KFS as we continue to respond to changing needs in our industry, continue our ambition of building KFS into the go-to forensic services company, and continue to provide our customers with the best-possible service.

“KFS are delighted and honoured to be the provider of this valuable service, and we are also delighted to welcome on board the team from MSA, who I am confident will feel right at home at KFS.

“This acquisition, which also includes specialist mass spectrometers with thermal sources, also establishes a physical presence for KFS in the south-west of England, where we plan to develop additional services to meet the local customer needs.

“This is a fantastic way to begin a new decade and, I am sure, what is going to be a very exciting 2020 for KFS.

“More details on this exciting acquisition will become available in the near future but, in the meantime, any of our dedicated and experienced account managers will be delighted to answer any questions.”

Who are Mass Spec Analytical?

Since their inception in 1994, Mass Spec Analytical Limited have provided forensic analytical services and R&D capabilities to corporations and law enforcement organisations.

During that time, MSA have developed the innovative uses of mass spectrometry in forensics and have introduced several breakthrough techniques.

MSA’s work on banknote analysis has resulted in the compilation of a vast database of drugs on banknotes, believed to be the largest database of currency in the world.

The MSA forensic laboratory is an ISO-17025 accredited trace detection laboratory that specialises in testing for illicit drugs on banknotes. It has operated for 26 years (UKAS-accredited for 13) and has successfully supported thousands of civil and criminal cases in all UK courts of law, including the Court of Appeal. 

MSA’s customers include the individual police services of England and Wales, alongside a wide range of law enforcement agencies and private clients including defence lawyers. They have also carried out work on behalf of British, Canadian, Japanese and US government agencies.

What is testing for Drugs on Money?

Most banknotes currently in circulation have traces of illicit drugs on them, notably cocaine. However, careful forensic methods using triple quad mass spectrometers and thermal ion sources can quickly and effectively determine whether a range of banknotes are likely to have been handled by persons who have also been handling illicit drugs. 

Over the years, MSA have developed an effective way to test thousands of banknotes quickly and effectively without the need for environmentally damaging solvents or destroying the evidence. MSA trace evidence is supporting evidence that is used in many different prosecution cases.

To do this, KFS use our own triple quad mass spectrometers that deliver two stages of identification through two stages of mass spectrometry where two separate techniques are used to identify substances. The legal requirement for high specificity is satisfied by utilising ion transitions which are highly characteristic of the target substances. Substances are identified by matching two ion pairs that delivers specificity that is extremely accurate and accepted in all courts of law.

The mass spectrometers use bespoke thermal ion sources that enable the fast processing of items through direct analysis requiring no sample preparation, glassware or solvents. The thermal sources are used with paper/cotton banknotes and swabs for testing polymer banknotes. The use of swabs also allows other artefacts, such as mobile phones and clothing, to be tested. 

If you have any queries on this exciting acquisition by Key Forensic Services, please give us a call on 02477 712246 or email us at