Public Sector Focus

29.10.19

Putting a finger on success

Parmjit Chahal, head of children’s access at Harrow Council, explains how a quick, dignified new fingerprint drug test is proving important in building a more open, trusting relationship with parents.

Harrow children’s services, like many local authorities, work hard to identify parental drug use at an early stage in order to encourage and support parents into drug treatment, maximising successful abstinence and improving their chances of continuing to care for their children wherever safe to do so.

Daily testing has proved to be highly successful in engaging parents – particularly when there is proven knowledge or reasonable suspicion of them being under the influence of drugs when responsible for children, something that could potentially impact their ability to care for those children.

The fingerprint test is quick to administer, non-intrusive, provides immediate results and, given the challenges faced by children’s services' budgets, is relatively inexpensive when compared with other forms of drug testing and therefore can be cost effective. What is also important to acknowledge is that the response from parents has been overwhelmingly positive, with more parents seeking early help and voluntarily disclosing drug use.

We’re always focused on the best interests of children, young people and their families, and our goal is to help more children stay safely at home with their families. Our approach works best when it is transparent, and that wasn’t always easy to achieve with traditional drug testing approaches such as the hair strand test method. With Intelligent Fingerprinting’s easy-to-use fingerprint-based testing, however, we’re able to be much more open about the process.

Previously we had to use traditional drug testing methods such as urine, hair and blood tests that were much more intrusive, required separate testing procedures, and frequently involved waiting for results. Given that we’re trying to work with parents to help turn their lives around, these processes often came across as authoritarian and discouraging for the people being tested.

Results available in 10 minutes

Intelligent Fingerprinting’s solution features a small, tamper-evident drug screening cartridge onto which 10 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 presumptive positive or negative result on-screen for all drugs in the test within 10 minutes.

The fingerprint-based method is better in every way than conventional drug testing. It allows people to indicate they’re drug free, with no fuss, in ten minutes flat. And from the council’s perspective, the reasonable cost of the system means we don’t have to think twice about whether to test or not. Additionally, the ability to produce screening results quickly means we can provide parents with the assurance and satisfaction of demonstrating that they are potentially drug-free. This helps our social workers to build more trust with parents, and ultimately work to improve the success rate of people overcoming addiction.

Fingerprint technology is working well for Harrow Council because it is early intervention, non-invasive and great at allowing us to work more closely with parents. While it’s too early to be specific about how many families have been kept together as a result of this approach, we certainly see it as helping the council to improve the success rate of those people who are working to overcome addiction while still safely caring for their children.

Those parents who have already engaged with the test have given us positive feedback and, even when a test comes back showing recent drug use, the immediacy of the fingerprint test method means that we can engage with the issue together right away which is what we’re here to do. It’s also convenient as we can do the tests at the council office, without the need for specialist medical staff or collection areas.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Tw: @harrow_council

W: www.harrow.gov.uk

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Darlington council in £9.5m venture to build on housebuilding success

06/12/2019Darlington council in £9.5m venture to build on housebuilding success

Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet has approved the borrowing of a further £9.5m to create another housebuilding joint venture, fol... more >
LGA responds to report on lack of social care

05/12/2019LGA responds to report on lack of social care

Age UK has today (Dec 5) published a report on the effect of a lack of social care, citing that it has resulted in 2.5 million lost bed days in t... more >
£845k in charity grants supporting disabled people in London

05/12/2019£845k in charity grants supporting disabled people in London

One London charity has been awarded £248,000 in funding to develop accessibility in jobs and services for disabled people. City Bridge... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been th... more > more last word articles >
149x260 PSE Subscribe button

the raven's daily blog

Utilising data to best deliver meaningful public services

14/11/2019Utilising data to best deliver meaningful public services

Public Sector Executive’s Matt Roberts explains how living in a modern, interconnected world, as we do, means public sector organisations cannot afford to ignore the role of data. Data is all around us in the modern age. Unseen, the digital environment plays a role in near on every aspect of our lives. It influences, manages and mit... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Being on the receiving end of some “thanks” can make communit... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues that community-led initiatives are a productive way of helping to solve... more >
Aberdeen's green transport fleet attracting international attention

19/06/2019Aberdeen's green transport fleet attracting international attention

Aberdeen City Council’s hydrogen spokesperson, councillor Philip Bell, highlights the Granite City’s determination to play a leading ... more >
A fifth of public sector workers have never received a thank you from the people they serve

13/06/2019A fifth of public sector workers have never received a thank you from the people they serve

A fifth of the country’s public sector workers say they have NEVER received a ‘thank you’ for doing their job as Public Service... more >

interviews

Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need to invest in technology to help make better use of their resources. Bu... more >
Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

17/12/2018Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

One of the public sector’s key technology partners has recently welcomed a new member to its team. Matt Spencer, O2’s head of public ... more >
New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

05/11/2018New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

The new chief executive of one of the new unitary authorities in Dorset has outlined his approach to culture and work with employees, arguing tha... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >