The Police and Border Guard Board wins Europol Excellence Award in Innovation

At the end of September, Europol presented Estonia with a prestigious innovation award in the category of innovative technical solution of the year. The Police and Border Guard Board (PBGB) won the award for a narcotic analyzer developed together with researchers from Tallinn University of Technology.

Drug Hunter is a novel and fast technical solution for rapid drug detection. While rapid saliva or urine-based tests that are commonly used for drug detection are inconvenient and inaccurate, Drug Hunter allows for a much more convenient and reliable on-the-spot drug detection. In about six minutes, Drug Hunter reliably identifies and qualifies narcotic drugs in an oral fluid sample.

According to Heiko Mihkelson, head of the Prevention and Offence Proceedings Bureau of the PBGB, such a smart solution for rapid detection of drugs will heighten the societal sense of security. “Thanks to Drug Hunter, the police can identify people who have used narcotic drugs and who may pose a threat to others as well as to themselves. In addition, it is essential for us that the speedy device allows us to spend significantly less working time on detecting drug usage. Currently, the police have only a small number of Drug Hunters, but in the future, time savings could be significant as more devices are added," Mihkelson said.

“We are immensely proud and pleased that the results of our 8 years of research and development have received so much attention and earned the Estonian police the Europol award. Such a success was only achieved thanks to the trust, support, and close cooperation of our partners. We are already continuing the development of Drug Hunter. Our next milestone will be to reduce the size of the narcotic analyzer to fit in any police car and also to add new drug analysis protocols," said Jekaterina Mazina-Šinkar, Assistant Professor at the TalTech department of Chemistry and Biotechnology and Drug Hunter Team Lead.

The narcotic analyzer project was initiated by the Ministry of the Interior and taken over by the PBGB, who described the development needs and tested the device. The award-winning device was developed in collaboration with researchers of TalTech and partners from Poland, including the Institute of Forensic Research and the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, who validated the reliability of the equipment.

Drug Hunter was tested in 2021 and 2022 at various major festivals and in traffic surveillance, where rapid detection of possible drug intoxication of the person behind the wheel is particularly important. Last July, the narcotic analyzer was also successfully used as evidence in criminal proceedings for the first time.

Additional information:

Kaarel Kallas
Spokesperson for the PBGB
5788 0640

Krõõt Nõges
Head of Media Relations for TalTech
620 3594, 5303 6163