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Scotland | Edu burst 1 | Collections | email – Legal

Sample collections for hair and DNA testing.

Drug hair and alcohol testing, and DNA testing is a vital tool in the resolution of childcare and family law cases.

To carry out any testing for drugs, alcohol or DNA, we need to obtain a sample from the donor in question. For drug and alcohol testing, this can be in the form of hair (most common), nail or blood. For DNA, two swabs of the inside of the cheeks is required.

All our sample collection is carried out by trained professionals who will meet the donor at a preferred location and will guide them through the process.

The chain of custody procedure

The chain of custody procedure ensures test results are legally defensible. With a robust procedure in place, we can protect and guarantee the integrity of the sample from collection through to results.

Each sample taken will be attached to its own unique reference number and a clear, high-resolution image of the donor’s face. This, along with the donor’s name and date of birth, will be tracked at each stage of the process to ensure the highest level of security is maintained and that the final report is correct and court-admissible.

The process

The first part of the process is confirming the donor’s identity. If the individual does not possess photographic identification, then their identity can be verified by a solicitor, social worker or a designated witness. If the individual is a child, then their identity should be verified by the parent/guardian.

Collecting hair samples

  • Prior to the collection, the donor should be mindful to not use any products like hairspray, gel, oils etc.
  • The collection technician will need to take two samples of hair from the crown of the head. These will generally be around the width of a pencil and cut with scissors, not shaved.
  • If there is little or no scalp hair, our collection technician can take a body hair sample. The sample sites will vary depending on what we are testing. For alcohol analysis, a sample can be taken from the chest or the leg/forearm. For drug analysis, hair can be taken from the underarm, chest, legs, arms, or beard.

Collecting nail samples

  • We can only collect natural untreated nails, this means the nails must be free of gel, acrylic, etc. If the donor has nail polish on, they may remove it and then wash their hands. The collector will then check if the donor has diabetes or any peripheral arterial disease. We can still carry out a collection if the donor has these medical conditions but it must be a fingernail sample.
  • The collector will sanitise the nail clippers with an alco wipe, placing the equipment into a clean tray ready for use. The donor will be cutting their own nails, under the strict supervision of the collector. The ideal width of a nail cutting is 2-3mm (approx. the thickness of a £2 coin). The same advice applies to both finger and toenails. The donor may find it beneficial to cut halfway across the nail, then pull the rest of the nail off to avoid ‘pinging off’. It will avoid the nail landing on anything other than the ‘clean’ area.
  • Each clipping will then be placed into a prepared foil. One foil should be used per nail type – fingernail and toenail clippings cannot be combined. The nail clippers are single-use and will be disposed of at the point of collection into a sharps bin, for peace of mind (regarding  hygiene and cross contamination.

Collecting blood samples

  • Prior to a blood sample collection, it is recommended the donor drinks plenty of water. Drinking water before a blood test makes it easier to extract a sample, therefore  more comfortable for the donor.
  • The collection technician will take a blood sample using a vacutainer needle, which is inserted into the vein and then used to draw out a sample of blood. The blood sample will be collected from the forearm (antecubital fossa) or the back of the hand (metacarpal veins.) There may be a small feeling of pricking or scratching as the needle goes in but it shouldn’t be painful. A small bruise may appear after the blood collection, this is usually harmless and shouldn’t require treatment.

Collecting DNA samples

  • We recommend that the donor does not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum for 30 minutes prior to giving a DNA sample. collection, the donor should be mindful to not use any products like hairspray, gel, oils etc.
  • As stated above, in order to obtain an oral fluid sample for a DNA test, the collection technician will need to take two swabs of the inside of the cheeks, near the back teeth, per donor.

For more information on the collection process and our services, please fill in this quick form. One of our experts will get back to you ASAP.