UK’s first regular drug testing service to open in Bristol

today26/01/2024 2

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The UK’s first regular drug testing service, is set to open in Bristol.

Launching this month, the Home Office-licensed service – managed by harm-reduction charity The Loop – will offer a free testing service and health advice in efforts to reduce drug-related medical incidents, overdoses and hospital admissions.

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Launched as a partnership between Bristol City Council and The Loop, the service will be working closely with health professionals, Bristol Drugs Project (BDP), and the universities of Liverpool and Bath to provide a free and confidential service — opening on the last weekend of every month to begin with.

Those wanting to use the service, will be asked to surrender a small amount of the drug they wish to test into an amnesty bin at the BDP’s headquarters in central Bristol — after this, the contents of the drug – along with its strength – will be measured at a mobile lab.

An hour later, the person will receive a tailored harm reduction consultations with health professionals. No drugs are handed back and local alerts will be issued if the drug is detected as dangerous, reports the BBC.

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The Loop have insisted that “all drug-use carries risk”, but a free-to-use testing service is important to reduce the harm caused to individuals and wider society.

Professor Fiona Measham, Founder and Chair of Trustees of The Loop and Chair in Criminology at the University of Liverpool, said: “This is a landmark moment for harm reduction. After 12 years of preparations, evaluations and negotiations, it is fantastic news that The Loop can start the UK’s first regular drug checking service.

“With more cities due to follow soon, this launch represents the start of a new era for drug checking and it could not come at a more important time. The risks from adulteration of the illegal drug market have never been greater.”

CEO of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), Michael Kill, applauds the forthcoming testing service: “The introduction of the UK’s first regular drug checking service in Bristol is a momentous achievement in harm reduction. This service will not only reduce the potential harm associated with drug use but also provide valuable insights into local drug markets.

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“We encourage the government to use this initiative as a springboard to develop a comprehensive harm reduction strategy and reform the outdated Misuse of Drugs Act. It is imperative that we prioritise the health and safety of our citizens and empower them to make informed choices.”

The service will begin on January 27 at Bristol Drug Project HQ in Brunswick Square, St Paul’s.

Find out more information about the drug testing service here.

Becky Buckle is Mixmag’s Multimedia Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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