Peterborough City Council uses fingerprint-based drug testing to support its family safeguarding program


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Peterborough City Council uses fingerprint-based drug testing to support its family safeguarding program

  • Fast on-site testing means that results can be shared immediately with social workers, courts and other appropriate bodies, supporting more collaborative initiatives
  • Simple and dignified testing approach encourages service user engagement, with some clients even requesting additional tests to demonstrate their progress towards addiction recovery

Peterborough City Council in Cambridgeshire, England is now using innovative fingerprint-based drug testing as part of its successful 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.

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. All service users need to do is 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. Previously, clients were required to visit a special clinic for drug testing – introducing delays and discouraging some users from engaging with the Family Safeguarding teams.

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,” added Jo Foster. “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.”

Through Change Grow Live, Peterborough City Council initially trialed the Intelligent Fingerprinting drug test in October 2017. Due to the project’s success, the council has now adopted this innovative approach as part of its ongoing family safeguarding program.

Fingerprint-based drug testing – how it works
Intelligent Fingerprinting’s drug testing solution features a small, tamper-evident 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.

An introductory video demonstrating fingerprint-based drug testing in action is available here.


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

About Peterborough City Council
Peterborough City Council was formed as a unitary authority in 1998, having previously been part of Cambridgeshire County Council. As a unitary authority, the council has both the powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. Safeguarding vulnerable children and adults is one of Peterborough Council’s key strategic priorities. For more information, visit or follow the Council on Twitter – @PeterboroughCC

About Intelligent Fingerprinting
Intelligent Fingerprinting’s portable Drug Screening System works by analyzing fingerprint sweat. It is non-invasive, fast and cost-effective, with sample collection taking seconds and simultaneous screening for multiple drug groups in ten minutes.

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 organizations, as well as UK coroners. The company has distributors across the globe, including the USA, where products are current available for forensic use only.

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.
Twitter @iFingerprinting

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