Hair strand testing – pitfalls and limitations – Transparency Project

Posted January 25th, 2024 in drug abuse, family courts, forensic science, news by sally

‘When it is disputed whether a person uses drugs, the family court can – and often does – order hair strand testing to determine the issue. This article draws upon the work of lawyer Sarah Branson and drug tester Paul Hunter, who have explored the limitations of hair strand testing and highlighted the need for caution in relying on hair strand test results (See Recent scientific developments in hair strand testing and racial bias in current practices of hair strand testing. I’m going to call this ‘the Fam Law article’). Even so, hair strand testing continues to be the ’go-to’ when there is a question over drug use. Despite an increasing recognition of the possibility of mistakes and errors in the production and reporting of hair strand test evidence, this evidence is still regularly relied upon by the courts as evidence of substance use. These problems are often underestimated, which can have disastrous consequences.’

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Transparency Project, 24th January 2024