'A landmark moment' - Bristol first UK city to have regular drug checking service

The service is being delivered by harm reduction charity The Loop. Credit: The Loop

The UK’s first regular drug-checking service will begin in Bristol this month.

It is set to open its doors for the first time on 27 January and will run once a month, with additional testing dates to be announced during the year ahead.

The service is being delivered by harm reduction charity The Loop and is funded by Bristol City Council.

The Loop Bristol Drug Checking Service aims to signpost people using drugs to support services and to help save lives by preventing the risk of poisoning and overdose.

The amnesty bin drop-off and Loop mobile laboratory are located at Bristol DrugProject (BDP) in Brunswick Square, St Paul's.

The consultations will take place at a local community centre once a month for a year on the last weekend of the month.

How will it work?

People who use the service can take substances of concern to BDP, surrender a small amount into an amnesty box on the ground floor, and then an hour later return to the community centre where they will receive a consultation.

A mobile lab will analyse the submitted substance using several chemical tests to identify the contents and strength.

The laboratory has a Home Office licence to handle controlled drugs and the conditions of the licence allow individual test results to be disseminated directly to service users who are over 18 years old and considered to be dependent users.

No drugs are handed back to users of the service.

Professor Fiona Measham, Founder and Chair of Trustees of The Loop and Chair inCriminology 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 fordrug checking and it could not come at a more important time. The risks from adulteration of the illegal drug market have never been greater.”

The new drug testing service aligns with the aspirations set out in the Bristol Drug and Alcohol strategy.

Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet Lead for Public Health and Communities, said: “I am proud that Bristol is the first city in the UK to have a regular drug checking service. This new initiative is ultimately going to save lives.

“It also means our communities will be able to access scientific and evidence-based information about the drugs that they may consume and that are in circulation.

“Bristol is leading the way in this innovative public health approach to keeping people safearound drugs which shows that, as a city, we put our people’s wellbeing at the forefront of decision making.”