After a drug testing measure proved to be successful at festivals, a pop-up lab will open in Bristol this weekend.
First established in 2013, the non-profit enterprise was founded by Fiona Measham – Professor of Criminology at Durham University – and DJ/promoter Wilf Gregory. Visitors will be able to test the strength and quality of their drugs without fear of prosecution, and a 15 minute drug counselling session will be provided. Run by charity The Loop, the scheme follows other European countries, which have these facilities in place. Currently, they’re campaigning for more pop-ups to be opened across the UK.
The Loop said, “New technologies now exist to tackle these drug harms, educate young people who take drugs, and gain a greater understanding of substances in circulation. The Loop has successfully provided drug safety testing or ‘Multi Agency Safety Testing’ (MAST) as we call it, at music festivals for the last two summers and now we want to bring this service to city centres with brand new pop-up labs across the UK.”
Inspector Martin Rowland said that the drug counselling service is the main benefit of the scheme. He speculated, “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.”
When tested at Boomtown last year, the festival reported a 25% reduction in drug-related medical incidents. 20% of those who’d tested their drugs decided not to take them, and 50% said they would reconsider.