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Cabinet to decide on UK’s first regular drug checking service

Cabinet to decide on UK’s first regular drug checking service

Proposals for the UK’s first regular drug checking service have been published which could see the city host 15 free and confidential sessions over a 12-month period.

29 April 2022

The proposed service would offer users a chance to submit a sample of a substance and receive the results from a forensic analysis, detailing the content and purity of a given substance.

Illicit substances often consumed at festivals or other events can be tested, with testing proven to both save lives and impact on people’s drug taking behaviours. Completely confidential and free to access, the proposed service is due to be discussed and decided on by Bristol’s Cabinet on Tuesday 10 May.

If approved the service would open its doors for the first time on 28 May and would also operate before significant local events.

The proposed service aligns with the aspirations set out in the Bristol Drug and Alcohol strategy.

Bristol City Councillor Ellie King, Cabinet Lead for Public Health, Communities, and Bristol One City said: “A cornerstone of our drug and alcohol strategy is our aim to monitor and consider new approaches to reducing the harm from illicit substance use. These proposals put forward an innovative approach to saving lives and reducing harm to our communities, and naturally align with our strategic aims.

“It’s important that we don’t ignore the fact that drug use is happening and take a two-dimensional approach to this subject. Whilst this service doesn’t take anything away from work underway to support those with substance addictions, it will provide communities with access to factual, scientific, evidence-based information about drugs they may consume and that may be in circulation throughout the wider city. This, alongside the proposed one-on-one trained healthcare consultation, will empower people to make safer, informed decisions. Bristol is leading the way in this public health approach to keeping people safe around drugs and shows that, as a city, we put our people’s wellbeing at the forefront of decision making. I look forward to discussing this proposal with the Mayor and Cabinet colleagues in our meeting in May.”

Drug checking services have operated successfully across Europe for four decades and have been piloted in UK cities and events since 2016.

Drug checking provides a vital opportunity for people to access accurate, timely, and relevant information to make more informed decisions about drugs.

Service users surrender substances of concern for laboratory analysis by chemists and the results are shared with them as part of a personalised health consultation with a health professional.

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