SCRAM CAM® Case Study

What a wonderful outcome!

Daisy* was not even born when the brief arrived to represent her mother. Daisy was to be removed at birth. Her mother was a long term user of heroin and other substances and was at the very beginning of a community based rehabilitation plan. All her other children had been taken from her and placed permanently outside of her care.

The stress of knowing the plan for Daisy's removal in the months leading up to her birth had led to a relapse into illicit drug use and a consequent lack of honesty with social services. This looked like another hopeless case.

Daisy's mother did not, however, present as expected. She was forthright, committed and had made her own enquiries into rehabilitation and support groups. Within six months she was clear of heroin and had gradually reduced her prescribed methadone until she no longer needed any. Daisy's chances of going home were looking surprisingly positive until in the final evidence an addendum from her psychiatrist cautioned that she may replace drugs with alcohol.

Repeated hair strand testing showed low to moderate use despite the mother's insistence that she was abstinent. The psychiatrist had insisted on abstinence because of her propensity to become addicted. Whilst lengthy and technical skeleton arguments were produced about the limitations of hair strand testing, Daisy's chances of going home were looking suddenly very bleak with the local authority, supported by the guardian, seeking care and placement orders.

As a last resort I made an application for transdermal alcohol continuous testing on the first day of the final hearing. I made good headway with arguments about the limitations of hair strand testing, but were it not for the speed, accuracy and reasonable cost of the alternative, SCRAM, I am convinced that the application would have been refused.

Daisy's mother had the SCRAM anklet fitted and during the three months she wore it not a single instance of alcohol use was detected. The local authority duly filed a rehabilitation plan supported by the guardian. Daisy finally went home to her mother when she was 18 months old. She remains there now, a year later, and is thriving. What a wonderful outcome!

*names have been changed for the purpose of this case study

Julie Stather, Barrister
Westgate Chambers