The Loop, a UK based non-profit harm reduction organisation is set to open the first Home Office licensed drug checking service in the UK this month. Funded by Bristol City Council, the service is set to open on 28th May 2022, running once a month on payday weekends. The service will occur between the Bristol Drugs Project (BDP) and The People’s Republic of Stokes Croft (PRSC), where users will be able to take illicit substances of concern to be tested, and receive free, individually tailored healthcare consultations.
Users will be asked to surrender their substances into an amnesty box at BDP, where chemical tests will identify the contents and strength. After an hour, they can go to the PRSC premises, where they will receive non-judgemental, individualised guidance that aims to reduce harm and provide drug market monitoring information to emergency and support services in the city. No drugs will be returned to users, instead, they will have access to scientific, evidence-based advice by professionals. There will also be additional pop-up times during specific events, such as Bristol Pride and Love Saves the Day festival.
Bristol City Councillor Ellie Kind, Cabinet Lead for Public Health, Communities and Bristol One, has welcomed the service, saying “Bristol is leading the way in this public health approach to keeping people safe around drugs that shows, as a city, we put people’s wellbeing at the forefront of decision making.”
The Loop’s drug checking service has been successfully piloted at events in the UK since 2016, and provides an essential opportunity for anyone to access accurate and helpful information about illicit substances.
Professor Fiona Measham, Director of The Loop and Chair in Criminology at the University of Liverpool said “As the first and only dedicated drug checking service provider in the UK, The Loop has been working for nearly a decade to establish regular drug checking services direct to the public and we are extremely grateful to the Home Office for issuing the licence to be able to offer this vital service. The Loop has a proven track record of designing and delivering evidence-based innovative interventions to engage with people otherwise not in touch with health services and to support them in making safer choices.”