At Music Festivals This Summer They Will Be Testing Drugs To See What’s Actually In Them

A turning point for drug culture and safety? Drug testing tents could be coming to a festival near you to tell you what's actually in those pills

At Music Festivals This Summer You'll Be Able To Test Your Drugs Before You Take Them

by Jazmin Kopotsha |
Published on

Festival drug culture isn't exactly news, but it could be about to change for the better for users following the introduction of a scheme that will allow people to have their substances tested before taking them.

The initiative was run for the first time last year by an organisation called The Loop at Secret Garden Party where roughly 200 people used the testing service. And now it looks like the scheme will extend to other huge festivals this summer. Fiona Measham, founder of The Loop said: ‘It’s really exciting that [the] police are prioritising health and safety over criminal justice at festivals’.

According to their website, The Loop is a not-for-profit community interest company who aims to ‘promote health and minimise harms in nightclubs, bars and festivals’. They previously only conducted forensic testing on drugs left in amnesty bins, seized by police or by paramedics but now The Loop could be running tents at various festivals and live music events where people can stop by, drop off drugs and then be told what’s in them, reports The Guardian. Then, whatever was offered for testing will be destroyed by the team.

The scheme could make a huge difference to the safety of drug-takers at festivals – you might remember hearing about 17-year-olds Peter McCallum and Megan Bell who both died at T in the Park in drug-related instances last year – but of course, due to the fact that a considerable number of the drugs in circulation at festivals are very much illegal, allowing for this sort of testing on site would really need some sort of backing from of local police.

Festival organisers are hoping for the support of the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and West Yorkshire police before going ahead with the scheme with The Loop. Melvin Benn, head of Live Nation subsidiary Festival Republic (he organises festivals like Reading, Leeds, Latitude, V festival and Wireless) said: ‘We talked about it during the summer of last year and the reality is that I took a decision that unless and until the NPCC supported the principle of it, it was difficult for us to move forward on it’.

‘We’ll see it this year for definite … at Leeds I’m pretty certain’, he said. ‘It’s taken a long time and it won’t be at every festival, but where we think there is a need we will be doing it’.

The latest National Statistics publication on Drugs Misuse in England and Wales revealed that deaths related to drug misuse in are at their highest level since comparable records began 14 years ago. A survey by The Guardian in 2014 found that almost a third of 16-24-year-olds had taken drugs and are the age group most likely to take them in an away from home, social environment which we could argue is reflected in the ages of the young men and women who passed away at various festivals last year. So yes, it’s clear that there is a need for better means to ensure the safety of users. As for how quickly this will happen and whether The Loop initiative will be instrumental in doing so does seem to depend on when and which festival (and their surrounding policing bodies) agree to put it into action.

West Yorkshire police are looking into the possibility of supporting Leeds festival’s organisers with the testing tent initiative, reports The Guardian. Assistant chief constable Andy Battle said: ‘We can never condone the use of illegal drugs, but we recognise that some people will continue to take them and we need to adapt our approach in the interests of public safety’.

Like this? You might also be interested in…

Secret Garden Part Becomes First UK Festival To Test Drugs On Site

The Joy Of The Sesh: How Memes Took Drug Culture Mainstream

The Politics Of Drugs At Work

Follow Jazmin on Instagram @JazKopotsha

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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