Drug testing at our fingertips: Harrow pioneers fingerprint drug tests


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Drug testing at our fingertips: Harrow pioneers fingerprint drug tests

Harrow Council will be helping more people successfully overcome addiction, and helping more children stay safely at home with their families – after successfully trialling a brilliant, quick and dignified new drug-test technology that uses fingerprints alone.

Intelligent Fingerprinting is a world-first technology which uses a portable device to analyse tiny traces of sweat from fingerprints. Within ten minutes, it accurately detects use of drugs ranging from marijuana to heroin and more. It’s the kind of test that would previously only be possible by taking a urine or saliva sample.

The Intelligent Fingerprinting trial was undertaken by Harrow Council’s Children and Family Care service, in particular as part of a family safeguarding programme, which aims to help families stay together by beating drug abuse and addiction.

Cllr Christine Robson, Portfolio Holder for Children and Families, said “As always our focus is upon the best interests of the children, young people and their families.

“For what we want to achieve, Intelligent Fingerprinting is better in every way than conventional drug testing. It allows people to prove they’re clean with no fuss, in ten minutes flat. Its low cost means we don’t have to think twice about testing, and it gives people the assurance and satisfaction of showing their clear test results right away.

“And if the results come back showing recent drug use, well that’s better for everyone too, as we can engage with the issue right away, together, which is one of the most important things we’re here to do.”

One of Harrow Council’s key roles is to encourage and support people to stick to drug-use custody conditions that have been established in court. That includes testing parents, if there is proven knowledge or reasonable suspicion of them being under the influence of drugs when responsible for minors – potentially impacting their ability to care for children.

Parmjit Chahal, Head of Children’s Access at Harrow Council, said: “This technology works. It has helped us improve the success rate of people overcoming addiction while safely caring for their children. It works because it is an early intervention, because it’s non-invasive and because it helps us build trust – parents who have engaged with it give us positive feedback about it.”

Dr Paul Yates of Intelligent Fingerprinting added: “The fingerprint-based test can be conducted on site at Harrow Council’s offices, without the need for specialist medical staff or collection areas. We are delighted with the success of the programme and are now looking for ways to share our findings with other Councils.”

Intelligent Fingerprinting’s drug testing solution features a small, tamper-evident drug screening cartridge onto which the client’s fingerprints are collected in a process that 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 cocaine, opiates, cannabis and methamphetamine in ten minutes. An introductory video demonstrating fingerprint-based drug testing in action is available here.

Researchers from King’s College London trialled the drug screening device with the support of social workers at Harrow Council over an 8-week period. Parents were screened on a routine or ad-hoc basis using the non-invasive sample collection procedure. Screening results were confirmed using oral fluid and additional fingerprint samples with validated techniques at an independent laboratory. Preliminary data analysis showed the test had promise for rapid and confidential testing by social care workers.

Media contacts:

Cheryl Billson, Comma: cheryl.billson@commacomms.com +44 (0)7791 720460
Daniel Lester, Harrow Council: daniel.lester@harrow.gov.uk, +44 (0) 208 424 1587

About Harrow Council:
Harrow Council is the local authority for the London borough of Harrow, in the north-west of the capital. The borough has roughly 250,000 inhabitants across 95,000 households. Once an Iron Age settlement and a medieval manor, Harrow owes most of its built environment to the Metroland expansion in the interwar period. The borough is characterised by its large number and quality of parks and open spaces, its connectivity by rail and Tube to central London and the diversity of its people. Harrow is a majority Asian ethnic borough, with more different faiths practised, and more different places of worship, than any other local authority area in the UK. Harrow is frequently named the safest London borough, the best London borough to raise and educate a child and the best London borough for small businesses. The council currently has a Labour administration led by Cllr Graham Henson.

About King’s College London:
King’s College London is one of the top 10 UK universities in the world (QS World University Rankings, 2018/19) and among the oldest in England.  King’s has more than 31,000 students (including more than 12,800 postgraduates) from some 150 countries worldwide, and some 8,500 staff.  King’s has an outstanding reputation for world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), eighty-four percent of research at King’s was deemed ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (3* and 4*).   Since our foundation, King’s students and staff have dedicated themselves in the service of society. King’s will continue to focus on world-leading education, research and service, and will have an increasingly proactive role to play in a more interconnected, complex world.

About Intelligent Fingerprinting:
Intelligent Fingerprinting’s portable Drug Screening System works by analysing fingerprint sweat. It is non-invasive, fast and cost-effective, with sample collection taking seconds and simultaneous screening for multiple drug groups (currently methamphetamine, cannabis, cocaine and opiates) in ten minutes. A laboratory confirmation service is also available.

The system has applications within many sectors and customers include employers in safety-critical industries such as construction, transport and logistics firms, drug treatment and family safeguarding organisations, as well as UK coroners. The company has distributors across the globe, including the USA.

Founded in 2007, Intelligent Fingerprinting is a spin-out company from the University of East Anglia (UEA).  The company is based in Cambridge, England and employs around 30 people.
www.intelligentfingerprinting.com Twitter @iFingerprinting

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