Police in Preston, Lancashire are offering a free service to test the purity of cocaine and MDMA as part of a service planned for the new year.
The idea is that ‘drug booths’ will help warn people about ‘adulterated or highly potent’ drugs that could potentially kill anyone who took them.
Preston is reported by The Mirror to be the first place in the UK to offer a service that’ll help people check the quality of their drugs and will operate in the town centre on Friday and Saturday nights.
Professor of criminology at Durham University and co-director of the Loop, the non-profit company Fiona Measham, has stressed this isn’t about punishing people but in reducing harm.
It’s a very new service and some people might see it as quite radical, but it’s focusing on harm reduction.
Reports say that the service is legal because those carrying out the service won’t be handling the drugs and because any substances tested are going to be destroyed.
The scheme has its critics of course and some have suggested that the scheme could normalise drug-taking, arguing no drugs are truly safe.
Professor Neil McKeganey, founder of the Centre for Substance Use Research at Glasgow University wrote:
I am staggered this is being contemplated, the police are advocating a view which one would not unfairly describe as facilitating drug use.
By implication the green light has been given by the authorities to consumption. It’s hard to see how this isn’t an absolute breach of our current drugs laws.
The National Police Chief’s Council has been quoted as saying that the scheme could be useful but that they did not not fully endorse it for national implementation.