1. ITV Report

Bristol allows people to test drugs before taking them on nights out

A pill is tested at a lab in Bristol. Photo: ITV News

Bristol has become the first city in the country to allow drug users on a night out to test what's in the drugs before they take them.

A pop up lab opened in the city centre on Saturday night as part of a pilot project which could be rolled out nationwide. Organisers say it will help reduce the risks associated with taking drugs and the project is being supported by the police and the council.

A recreational drug user, who wanted to remain anonymous, said when you buy drugs you don't really know what you're taking.

"I've seen people have adverse reactions to drugs they thought they were familiar with. It's just a mystery- you don't know what you're getting and the next batch could end up going back to being alright so they'll carry on. If you are a recreational drug user and there's services like these around, you can make a point of getting your stuff tested before you buy any quantity of it."

As part of the testing service, people must also have a short session with a specially trained councillor. The service is run by The Loop charity. They say that far from encouraging drug use, they're working within the law to try to cut the risks.

"We don't give any drugs back to people so we can't be accused of supply. But we also operate a very strict test and destroy process so the drugs aren't in our possession. But also, most importantly we don't condone drug use so we can't be accused of aiding and abetting in a crime. We are identifying and taking dangerous drugs out of circulation. Our harm reduction advice is about flagging up the risks to people. We want to keep people safer, not make drugs safe."

While clubs like Motion in Bristol operate a zero tolerance approach to drugs, experts admit no security measures are foolproof.

In fact, the UK currently has the highest drug related death rate in Europe and police in Bristol are supporting the testing project in the hope it will help.

"We know people are going to use drugs recreationally. It's not something that we would condone, it's something that we would argue against but it does happen so we've got to take a common sense approach and we don't have the resources or the time to be going around arresting everyone for that kind of thing so we've got to work with our partners to find better ways of doing that."

This weekend a third of the drugs tested were found to be totally different to what the service users thought.

Those behind the scheme hope the information they pass on can help save lives.

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