Harrow Council has begun to use a portable device to analyse sweat from fingerprints in drug testing as part of its children and family care service.
The London borough has adopted the technology from Intelligent Fingerprinting following a series of trials.
It analyses tiny traces of sweat from a finger and makes it possible to detect whether the subject is using drugs such as marijuana or heroin within 10 minutes.
The devices are now being used as part of the council’s family safeguarding programme, which sometimes involves parents proving they are drug-free.
They include a small, tamper-evident drug screening cartridge onto which the person’s fingerprints are collected – a process that takes less than a minute – following which the analysis unit reads the cartridge and provides a positive or negative result on-screen.
It does not require any specialist medical staff and can be used at any location.
Councillor Christine Robson, portfolio holder for children and families at Harrow, said: “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 10 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.”
The council’s head of children’s access, Parmjit Chahal, said it has helped to improve the success rate of people overcoming addiction while caring for their children as it supports early intervention. Also, parents who have engaged with it have provided positive feedback.