Council introduces fingerprint-based drug testing for social care initiative

Peterborough City Council is now using fingerprint-based drug testing as part of its family safeguarding social care initiative.

Following a successful trial of the Intelligent Fingerprinting portable drug testing system, which detects drug use through fingerprint sweat analysis, the Council has now fully adopted the system within its safeguarding programme to encourage service users to abstain from drug use and to adhere to family court custody conditions or social care child protection arrangements.

Intelligent Fingerprinting’s drug testing solution features a small, drug screening cartridge onto which ten fingerprint sweat samples are collected, in a process which takes less than a minute. The Intelligent Fingerprinting portable analysis unit then reads the cartridge and provides a positive or negative result on-screen for all drugs in the test in ten minutes. It was initially trialled by the Council in 2017, and a video of how it works can be seen here.

The Peterborough Family Safeguarding teams work with service users who have a history of drug abuse that may impair their ability to look after children in their care. Regular drug testing using the Intelligent Fingerprinting system is carried out by Peterborough City Council partner Change Grow Live and both staff and service users have commented on how much more dignified the test is compared to more traditional approaches – largely thanks to its hygienic nature and how easy it is to use. Service users provide fingerprint sweat samples onto the Intelligent Fingerprinting drug screening cartridge. The cartridge is analysed immediately using a portable reader, providing results in ten minutes for discussion there and then during their meeting.

Jo Foster, head of service for family safeguarding at Peterborough City Council, said: “Having previously worked in Child Protection for a number of councils, I could immediately see the benefits of the Intelligent Fingerprinting drug testing method when I joined Peterborough City Council. With sample collection in seconds and results in 10 minutes, the immediacy of the fingerprint-based drug testing approach certainly makes for much more informed and engaged client meetings. There is also a significant efficiency saving across the process, as results can be shared more quickly with third party agencies as required – enabling a much more collaborative working process between the council, social workers and representatives of the family court.

“Service users are also very positive about the non-invasive nature of fingerprint drug testing. We’ve even had cases where clients have requested more frequent testing to demonstrate their recovery progress. And we’re finding that being able to complete tests and share results during meetings really helps in terms of building trust, while removing the requirement to conduct traditional urine, blood or saliva tests separately also makes the process much more transparent.”

Intelligent Fingerprinting’s Dr Paul Yates, who has worked with both Peterborough City Council and Change Grow Live on the project added: “In addition to the benefits of fingerprint-based drug testing such as its non-intrusive nature, ability to deliver rapid results and its portability, it’s clear that Peterborough City Council has also been able to secure significant productivity improvements. The fact they can now work faster and more collaboratively with other agencies leads directly to a more informed family safeguarding process and better outcomes for both the Council and its service users.”


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