Home > UK’s first pilot of onsite ‘drug checking’ service.

Drug and Alcohol Findings. (2019) UK’s first pilot of onsite ‘drug checking’ service. Drug and Alcohol Findings Research Analysis, (31 May 2019),

PDF (UK’s first pilot of onsite ‘drug checking’ service)

External website: https://findings.org.uk/PHP/dl.php?file=Measham_F_...

In a year when drug-related deaths in the UK had peaked, a pioneering study of drug safety testing was conducted on festival grounds. Its impact on drug-related harm was measured at various levels, including drug-related hospital admissions, behaviours of 230 people who received harm reduction advice, and actions that stakeholders took after receiving information about drugs being mis-sold or contaminated.


Key points from summary and commentary

  • Drug safety testing was piloted at a UK festival in 2016, enabling attendees to submit their illicit drugs for forensic testing and receive harm reduction advice.
  • In total, 20% of drugs were not what they were sold as, and this mis-selling was twice as high when drugs were bought at the festival than when they were bought offsite.
  • Upon hearing the test results, one in five service users chose to dispose of their drugs, and targeted alerts were disseminated with the support of festival management and police, including for chloroquine and ketamine mis-sold as cocaine, and pills with high MDMA content

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