Drug sniffer dogs are being deployed by police at Brighton Pride, the first time such a tactic has been used at a Pride event.

Officers will also be testing anyone if they have reasonable suspicion that they are in possession of illegal drugs at the Festival in Preston Park this weekend.

There’s been widespread concern that a new drug testing machine will be used to target users as well as dealers but the Commander of Brighton Police Chief Superintendent Kevin Moore says that’s not the case

He said: “We will be stopping and testing those where we have intelligence that they have drugs on them,” he said confirming that the programme was intent on stopping dealers.

He said officers on duty are being given “wide discretion” to caution users who might be stopped. If caught with a small amount of drugs it is likely those involved will have their drugs confiscated and received an on the spot caution with no arrest.

PJ Aldred, Pride’s operation manager, said: “We want to protect those people who take drugs at Pride.”

The fear is that Pride is becoming a beacon for dealers who sell dangerous drugs.

The police and the city council and Pride organisers are anticipating record numbers and are preparing for a rise on last year’s figure of 120,000 across the weekend.

“We’re expecting more people this year,” said Councillor Gill Mitchell, chair of the Council’s environment committee.

“We want to make sure it is a safe event,” she added.

Brighton Pride takes place this weekend.