Last month, two young festival-goers attended Mutiny Festival in Portsmouth. After taking drugs, they sadly passed away. Unfortunately, this is now an annual feature of the summer festival season. But it doesn’t have to be.
Drug testing services such as The Loop are reporting that if content and purity can be tested on site then around 50 per cent of drug users will actually either decide to take less, or even avoid the drugs that they have.
People would be able to bring any drugs into a specifically designated area of the festival, and have a professional analyse their chemical make-up and then give information on what they possess. The drugs in question at Mutiny Festival have been described as 'high strength or bad batch substances', these could have been discovered using drugs testing services if they had been available.
This year Bestival, a leading UK music festival, will be using these services in an effort to reduce drug-related deaths and incidents at their event. Both Reading and Leeds festivals, among others, had facilities in 2017.
David Nutt, a leading drug policy expert and former government drugs policy spokesman, said: ‘I believe all festivals should have testing” while Professor Mike Barnes, a neurologist and drug expert remarked that “we should be adopting a harm reduction policy at these events in place of punishment or zero tolerance. It should be compulsory for festivals to have a drug testing facility as a condition of the license.”
Fifteen people were admitted to hospital in one night at Mutiny Festival with drug-related symptoms including the two who passed away. It is vital we don't see this at other UK festivals over the summer, but we will if action isn’t taken.
Wera said: ‘It saddens me that every year people don’t make it home from festivals due to drug-related activity. If these services, which I understand are relatively inexpensive when compared to a human life, can be used to reduce both harm and prevent avoidable deaths then it is something I really support.”