Cansford Labs - The Drug and Alcohol Testing Blog

3 Easy Ways to Protect the Chain of Custody in a Hair Drug Test

Posted by Kim Bagley on Jul 26, 2016

Protecting the Chain of CustodyWhere hair drug tests are used in Family Court, getting it done right is paramount. So if something goes wrong or procedure isn’t followed, it can be frustrating trying to rectify these mistakes.

A common issue that crops up with hair drug testing is securing the chain of custody. Once the hair sample has been taken, it needs to be handled with care throughout the process. If the results of the test will be used in court and there are any doubts about the integrity of the sample, Judges aren’t likely to take the chance of using the results to influence their decision, especially if the welfare of a child is at-risk.

But making sure the sample gets through the hair testing process untainted doesn’t have to cause you a lot of headaches. Here’s 3 simple things you can do to protect the chain of custody in a hair drug test. 

Request a Witness Statement

Once the sample has been sent off to the lab, it’s a waiting game for the donor and the Family Lawyer to receive the results. Still, Family Lawyer’s and donors can find out just what happened to the sample while it was in the lab by requesting a Witness Statement. 

A Witness Statement essentially outlines everything that happened to the sample during the hair testing process. This includes the sampling process, sending the sample to the lab and the preparation and analysis procedure in the lab. At the end of the statement, a copy of the results is provided.

The advantage of Witness Statement’s is they can be used to verify the legitimacy of the whole hair test. So if it comes up in Family Court and the opposing side question the validity of the test, the Witness Statement can be used to say ‘well actually, the whole process has been documented and nothing out of the ordinary occurred’. 

Essentially, the Witness Statement can play an important role in confirming the validity of the chain of custody when it comes to court.

Opt for the lab to take the sample

Of all the drug testing methods available, taking a sample in a hair test is quite simple; pretty much anybody can take it. Yet, that doesn’t mean that just anybody should take it. 

When taking the sample, it’s imperative not to contaminate the sample or spoil it in anyway. If the sample does get contaminated, this could be brought up in court and the results could be thrown out of the window.

That’s why it’s best to get a GP or the lab’s trained sample collector to take the hair sample. Professionals sent from the lab tend to use quite stringent protocols when collecting the sample and are much more likely to ensure the sample doesn’t get contaminated. 

For example, when Cansford Laboratories takes the hair sample, the collector will wrap it in aluminium foil and seal it in an envelope with tamper-evident seals. This enables the lab to check the sample hasn’t been tampered with on its way to the lab. 

Ultimately, opting for the lab to take the sample is your best bet, especially if the results will be used in Family Court. 

Ensure the donor provides Photo ID 

You’d be surprised at the amount of times we’ve seen people try to cheat a hair test by getting someone else to take the test. It happens, and when it does, it reflects pretty poorly on the donor when this comes up in court. 

Still, you can avoid this situation by getting the donor to provide official Photo ID when the sample is taken. This should be backed up the Family Lawyer, Social Worker or other reliable 3rd party on-site to witness the sampling process and sign documentation confirming that everything was legitimate. 

Overall, protecting the chain of custody is vital in any hair drug test, including situations where the results are going to be used in Family Court. By requesting a Witness Statement, opting for the lab to take the sample and having the donor provide official photo ID, you can help to protect the chain of custody.

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