Application made for drug testing centre in Aberdeen

The service aims to reduce harm from drugs and help prevent overdoses.

Application made for drug testing centre in Aberdeen PA Media

An application has been made to the UK Government to open a drug testing facility in Aberdeen.

Support service Alcohol and Drugs Action (ADA) has submitted the Home Office licence application for the service, planned to be part of a Scottish drug-checking project pilot scheme also involving Glasgow and Dundee.

The project aims to reduce harm by testing illegal substances and potentially reducing overdoses.

If the application is passed, drug checks will be available for people aged over 18 and will be targeted at those who say they are dependent on or experience significant harm from drugs.

Support workers would use testing machines to examine the content of illegal drugs, before samples are sent to a national testing laboratory for more in-depth analysis.

Drugs and alcohol policy minister Christina McKelvie said: “I welcome the announcement that Aberdeen has submitted their licence application for a drug-checking facility to the Home Office.

“We are committed to delivering drug-checking facilities which will allow people to get substances tested for content whilst receiving tailored harm reduction advice alongside the results, and will enable services to respond faster to emerging trends.

“We continue to work with partners to implement these facilities across all our pilot cities as they also prepare to submit applications.”

The testing centre would run alongside ADA’s Enhanced Injecting Equipment Provision programme which provides sterile needles and syringes to drug users.

People using the drug-checking service would be encouraged to access available support, including treatment or help to stop or cut down drug use.

ADA’s direct access services manager, Simon Pringle, said: “Our main aim is to reduce harm associated with drug use for people at the highest risk of harm, overdose and death.

“Being able to test substances on site will give us an opportunity to have a conversation with service users about what they’re using and what’s actually in these substances, so they can make more informed choices.”

ADA is part of the Aberdeen Alcohol and Drugs Partnership (ADP) and is working with the NHS, Scottish Government and ADP partners in Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow to evaluate the impact of drug checking on reducing drug-related harm and inform future policy.

NHS Grampian public health consultant John Mooney said: “This drug-checking project will provide a level of testing that’s really valuable in terms of drugs surveillance and preventing harm at a time when there are substances circulating which are 50 times more powerful than heroin.

“It’s one of our key harm reduction measures – also including supervised drug consumption and equipping people with the opioid overdose reversal drug Naloxone.”

Aberdeen City Council co-leader Christian Allard welcomed the progress with the pilot scheme.

He said: “Greater knowledge about the composition of street drugs will help people using the service better understand the risks, and in the longer term improve policies for managing drug-related issues.”

The first drug-checking site licensed by the Home Office was opened in Bristol earlier this year.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Drugs ruin lives and devastate communities, which is why the Government is committed to tackling both the supply and demand for drugs, as set out in the 10-year drugs strategy.

“We are committed to working closely with the Scottish Government on this issue to improve the particular challenges of drug misuse in Scotland.”

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