Britain's first ever city centre recreational drug testing facility opens in Bristol

The UK's first ever drug safety testing facility has opened following successful pilots at several British music festivals.

The pop-up lab, which was set up this weekend in Bristol, is able to test the strength and quality of drugs provided to it by users.

The new scheme, which is supported by police and the council, follows other European countries, where drugs can be tested anonymously without fear of prosecution.

Along with testing the safety of drugs, the scheme, which is run by charity The Loop, gives users 15 minutes of drug counselling, where they are provided with information relating the safety of recreational drugs.

At Boomtown festival, where the scheme has been tested in the past, 20% of those who tested drugs decided not to take them at all and 50% said they would reconsider their drug taking.

Boomtown also recorded a 25% reduction in drug-related medical incidents after introducing The Loop’s drug safety testing service in 2017.

In 2015, there were 2,299 deaths related to drug misuse and Avon and Somerset Police say that "it's time to try new things" after years of tactics having little impact.

Inspector Martin Rowland said the main advantage of the scheme is not that people find out the quality of their drugs, but that they are given subsequent drug counselling.

He said: "The real benefit for us is that they also get 15 to 20 minutes with a drugs worker who will talk to them about the impact of drugs.

"Maybe they'll go away from that not just having had their drugs tested but come away with a bit of advice and think actually I'm not going to do this kind of behaviour anymore."

Statistics appear to show that the scheme is working, however many oppose the idea, saying it decriminalises recreational drugs.

The centre also offers consultation sessions to drug users.

Mosca Burns, whose daughter Joana died after taking party drug MDMA, believes city centre drug testing legitimises drug use.

She said: "(It creates) a false sense of security I think. It would give you licence to take it because you think its okay.

"Plus I do think the fact that there's drug testing stations kind of legitimises it and makes you feel its okay, its not right."

Two other cities are on the verge of introducing drugs testing and following the successful pilot in Bristol, the scheme will return to the city for a further two weekends.

Joana Burns, 22 died after taking MDMA.