Fingerprint drug test to be used by Staffordshire (South) Coroner Service to assist investigations into cause of death


Fingertip drug testing reader for coroners

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Press Release

New fingerprint drug test to be used by Staffordshire (South) Coroner Service to assist investigations into cause of death

  • HM Senior Coroner for Staffordshire (South) orders new fingerprint-based drug screening system following successful trial
  • 5 second sample collection; sub 10 minute test works by analysing sweat deposits that remain on the fingertips – even after death
  • Non-invasive test offers early insight into whether or not drug use may have contributed towards death

Following a successful trial, HM Senior Coroner for Staffordshire (South) has placed an order for a revolutionary new fingerprint-based drug screening system from Intelligent Fingerprinting. The new technology will be used by the Coroner’s team to carry out a simple, non-invasive drug test on the deceased immediately upon arrival at the mortuary. The test results will help to prioritise costly and time-consuming post-mortem investigations.

Launched just last month, Intelligent Fingerprinting’s new Drug Screening System is the world’s first portable fingerprint drug test. It detects recent drug use by analysing the sweat collected from the tip of a finger. Remarkably, sweat deposits are still present even after death. Sample collection takes five seconds, and the system delivers simultaneous screening results for the four main drugs of abuse – cocaine, opiates, cannabis and amphetamines – in under ten minutes.

This rapid and non-invasive approach provides Coroner services such as Staffordshire (South) with a convenient means of gathering critical early intelligence on possible drug use by the deceased – particularly in comparison with conventional toxicology tests that are usually conducted as part of the post-mortem examination. These typically require the collection of invasive body fluid samples – blood, saliva or urine – that then have to be sent away for analysis by external testing laboratories.

“Fingertip drug screening may prove to be a valuable addition to the range of tests we use for investigating deaths, particularly as we can now carry out the initial drug test within the mortuary,” commented Mr Andrew A Haigh, HM Senior Coroner for Staffordshire (South). “Now that the test is commercially available, we were keen to place an order. Importantly, the Intelligent Fingerprinting system may well help us to prioritise when a full post mortem is needed.”

The Staffordshire (South) Coroner’s Office has been an active participant in trials of Intelligent Fingerprinting’s drug screening system over the last 18 months, with trial results showing that fingertip-based testing can deliver effective screening, prioritising the requirement for further post mortem enquiries and full toxicology analyses.

“Testing clearly showed that fingertip-based screening provides useful and reliable intelligence on drug use prior to death, with the results being highly consistent with existing techniques – body-fluid based tests and laboratory toxicology analyses,” continued Mr Haigh. “Now that the system has been fully validated and tested for commercial use, we are delighted to add Intelligent Fingerprinting to our portfolio of tests.”

“Tests have proven that the Intelligent Fingerprinting drug screening system can not only detect recent use of drugs prior to death, but also does it conveniently, quickly and in a non-invasive manner,” added Intelligent Fingerprinting’s Business Development Director, Dr Paul Yates. “This ability to gain very early drug use intelligence outside the post-mortem examination provides an opportunity for Coroners and their staff to expedite and direct further investigations and toxicology tests – helping them to target valuable resources where they are most needed.”

To learn more about how non-invasive fingerprint drug screening works, and how it can become a valuable drug screening technology for Coroner services and other applications, view the Intelligent Fingerprinting introductory video.


For media information contact Cheryl Billson at Comma
Email:  Tel: +44 (0)7791 720460

Notes to Editors:

About HM Senior Coroner for Staffordshire (South)
The Staffordshire (South) Coroner’s Office assists and supports the HM Coroner and the police in their investigation of unnatural deaths within their jurisdiction and to determine whether or not an inquest is required.

About Intelligent Fingerprinting
Launched in August 2017, the Intelligent Fingerprinting Drug Screening System works by analysing the sweat from a fingerprint sample. It is non-invasive, fast and cost-effective – screening for multiple drug groups simultaneously (currently amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine and opiates) with sample collection taking 5 seconds and results in minutes.

The system is currently being marketed to the criminal justice arena, drug rehabilitation services, offender management and occupational health services. The technique has potential for many other uses including healthcare diagnostics and homeland security applications.

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 currently employs around 30 people. Twitter @iFingerprinting

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