A scheme for clubbers to check the quality of their drugs before taking them could save lives, according to local drug workers.
It has been announced that in the New Year, kiosks will be set up outside nightspots on Friday and Saturday nights.
Volunteers from Community Interest Company Loop will ask for one pill or a scoop of powder, and laser equipment will diagnose the drug content within minutes - checking for dangerous chemicals ‘cut’ with the likes of cocaine and MDMA. Revellers can then decide whether they want to take the rest of their drugs.
Although some critics have said it will give a “green light” for drug consumption, others say it could be a good move.
Peter Yarwood of Preston-based Red Rose Recovery, said: “It sounds very forward-thinking. People who are minded to take drugs don’t always know what they are getting. This could potentially save lives and is an opportunity for intervention.”
Town centre councillor Drew Gale said: “If people are inclined to take drugs then they will do.
“But there are some horrible things that get cut up with drugs when dealers get their hands on them, and it can be life-threatening. I think this is a practical solution, but I don’t know if it’s a moral one.”
Prof Fiona Measham co-director of the Loop, admitted to the Sunday Times the scheme might seem “quite radical” but said it was focusing on harm reduction.
She said: “If we look at the evidence of other countries which already have this drug testing, we’ve found they have much lower mortality rates in relation to drugs. In Switzerland, they’ve had no party drug deaths for the last seven years.”
Chief Inspector Jon Clegg of Lancashire Constabulary said discussions were at an early stage, but it could be a way of identifying harmful substances in circulation and for drug workers to engage with users.
He said: “We are exploring alternative methods to highlight the risks and harms associated with taking illegal drugs and psychoactive substances, and have discussed with The Loop and local partners the possible opportunities to highlight these risks through a pilot ‘drug-testing’ scheme in Preston.”