Drug testing specifically designed for the Family Court process.
The Forensic Testing Service (FTS) have developed a model of best practice for drug testing that is specifically designed for family court investigations.
Our model of best practice gives social workers and legal professionals assurance that they are making decisions based upon a forensic investigation that achieves the civil standard of proof (a balance of probabilities).
Results are derived from a unique selection of testing methods to build an accurate picture of usage over time.
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Using standard cut off levels in hair strand testing, someone with black hair is more likely to test positive for some substances than someone with blonde or ginger hair.
Did you know that natural hair colour affects the concentration of Codeine and many other substances found during hair strand testing?
This can mean that somebody with dark hair is more likely to test positive than somebody with light coloured hair.
An FTS investigation takes this in to account in every single case, ensuring people are not discriminated against due to their hair colour.
FTS Model of Best Practice
It is not appropriate for decisions concerning the future of children to be based around a simple screening process for drugs and/or alcohol.
Although this might be appropriate in other sectors, the strict use of cut off levels in hair strand testing, in many cases has the potential to give unclear and/or inaccurate results.
A comprehensive client questionnaire
To provide as much context as possible, we complete a detailed client questionnaire in every case, which details a client’s use of both street and prescribed drugs for the previous 12 months and all factual influences that can affect our results. This is by far the most detailed questionnaire in the industry.
A dedicated FTS case manager to guide you through the process
We recommend that you speak with one of our case managers before instructing us so that we can advise you as to what is the most appropriate profile of testing and best use of public funds. Regardless of which profile is recommended all of our costs are in accordance with the LAA’s codified rates.
We are also able to provide you with an example Part 25 application and Court Order to ensure that the testing ordered by the court is appropriate for the evidence, which you are trying to obtain.
Testing and results
Our unique model of best practice ensures that public funds are used in an appropriate and proportionate manner. In addition to us identifying whether a client has used drugs, we can provide an overview for a period of time or a detailed monthly breakdown of use.
Has this person used drugs in the past 3 months?
Others say she hasn’t…FTS can prove she has.
How do I arrange testing and sample collection?
Please follow the link below to get a quote, make an instruction or request testing.
Complete our simple online forms or download a PDF copy to complete digitally or by hand.
You can also call our customer services team to register your case over the phone.
A member of our team will be in touch to arrange sample collection.
Mobile Collection Service
FTS is one of the only testing providers with mobile collection vehicles. This means our collection team can meet your client at a convenient time and place without the pressure of a fixed location. Please let us know if you would like to use this service during your application.
Download our free PDF whitepapers and guides
Are Cut Off Levels Relevant for Child Protection?
FTS Service Summary
FTS Parliamentary Review Best Practice Representative
Drugs Testing Information & FAQs
Which drugs tests should I request?
In all cases we recommend speaking to our experienced support team for advice. FTS can then recommend the right drugs tests for your case.
The required drugs tests will depend on the circumstances and what type of evidence is required.
If you are not sure and need to prove complete drug abstinence for most commonly abused drugs over the past 6 months then a hair sample, of 6 cm minimum length, should be tested for all the routine drugs listed.
Additionally, a urine or oral fluid test can be requested to ensure there hasn’t been a recent relapse.
If less than 6 cm of hair is available, the hair test should be carried out monthly to cover the desired period and urine or oral fluid test carried out with the last hair test.
If there is a good and reliable drug use history available, then the drugs tested can be more selective. However, it is common for a drug user to use different drugs or combination of drugs.
Drug use declarations may be deliberately or inadvertently inaccurate. It is therefore advisable to select the declared drug or drugs and add the other most commonly abused drugs. To see a list of commonly used drugs please click here.
Can you carry out a hair strand test with little or no scalp hair?
FTS have established a unique approach to testing body hair
FTS’s accumulated knowledge and experience of body hair testing provides the opportunity to obtain reliable evidence on drug and alcohol misuse. Using body hair as an alternative to scalp hair, FTS are able to differentiate excessive from non-excessive drinking. FTS now have sufficient data to establish cut-off’s for body hair and to provide an assessment of the period covered for each specific body hair sample tested for both drugs and alcohol.
Body hair testing also has the benefit that it is less susceptible to external influences such as hair treatments and also is often more protected from the risk of passive environmental contamination from a wide variety of drugs.
Body hair cannot be segmented but can still monitor changes over time
Body hair samples cannot be segmented to provide reliable information on drug or alcohol use. However, FTS have now developed new techniques to help establish drug and alcohol use over specific time periods:
- Collecting two or more sequential body hair samples over 1 to 3 month periods can establish changes in patterns of drug or alcohol use.
- Shaving body hair from the same collection site each time also provides an accurate and defined history for substance misuse as an alternative to segmentation of scalp hair.
- Testing hair from more than one specific site on the body (leg, arm, chest, back, face) at the same time, enables differentiation of time periods since each site has its own specific growth profile.
Background information on Body Hair testing
Although body hair grows at a similar rate to hair on the scalp its growth varies from approximately 0.65cm every 28 days to 0.9 cm every 28 days depending on the specific body site, compared to an average 1.0 cm every 28 days for scalp hair. However, the most significant difference is the much higher proportion of dormant or non-growing hair (telogen) present in body hair compared to the scalp. Telogen hair can remain attached to the skin from around 2 to 9 months before dropping out.
Body hair contains between 40% to 80% telogen hair depending where it is on the body. This means that a significant proportion of the hair that was growing 2 to 9 months ago, and which contains the drug and alcohol markers from this earlier period, is now mixed in with the growing hair, which represents drug or alcohol levels from the recent history. The length of the body hair also influences the history it represents. Consequently, FTS apply a calculation to include hair length and the approximate percentage of telogen hair for each body site, to establish the approximate history covered by each sample tested.
The resulting levels in body hair therefore represent an average of drug or alcohol use over an extended period but unlike scalp hair there is a bias to the older history, which can result in more carry over from earlier drug or alcohol use. When drug use is regular it can also lead to a concentration of levels in the hair relative to the amount of drug or alcohol use compared to scalp hair.
What is segmentation in a hair strand test?
The scalp hair can be segmented, each centimetre of hair provides information on a window of approximately one month providing an understanding of the historical pattern of drug use.
If you do not segment you will get a result of Yes or No on whether the donor has used drugs in the testing period, this can include some potential carry over from the period prior to the testing period as significant usage stays in the system for some time.
If you segment the hair we can differentiate between carry over from the period prior to testing period, small usage, one off usage and regular usage.
How does hair strand drug testing work?
Hair strand drug testing and analysis can provide a detailed history of drug use looking back from approximately one week before the hair sample was taken, up to the previous twelve months, assuming sufficient hair length is available for analysis.
Drugs enter the hair through the blood supply in the hair follicle, the drugs become bound and fixed in the hair cortex as it grows away from the scalp. Scalp hair grows at an average rate of approximately 1.2 cm every 4 weeks.
If segmentation of the scalp hair is applied prior to analysis a history of drug use builds up over time. Hair strand drug testing and analysis can therefore provide a detailed history of drug use up to approximately 5 days prior to sample collection, covering the previous twelve months, assuming sufficient hair length is available.
A small sample of hair is cut from the scalp, approximately the thickness of a pencil.
If a history of 3 months is required then a 4cm segmented section of scalp hair would be used, each 1.2cm of scalp hair providing information on a window of approximately 4 weeks. For each additional 4 week period an additional 1cm of hair is used.
This provides an understanding of the historical pattern of drug use and whether use occurred prior to the period of interest or during this period. It can also show if use has increased, decreased, remained consistent or if there has been a period of abstinence throughout the required time frame.
How much can we learn from urine and oral fluid testing?
Urine or oral fluid analysis is able to provide information on drug use for up to the previous 3 to 6 days. Combined with a hair test this ensures you have a complete picture of drug use. Oral fluid is difficult to cheat and can be more acceptable for the donor.