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Sunday, December 15, 2019

UK to Test Pills at Music Festivals as Tainted Drugs Lead to More Deaths

Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: Guardian
                Call for pill tests as more than 50% of music festival goers say they take drugs
Better on-site testing will reduce harm – especially to older ‘festival-only’ drug users, charities say

More than half of UK festival goers are taking illegal drugs at the annual music events, according to the first research of its kind.

The findings, which come amid fears that 2019 will prove a record year for drug-related deaths at such events, have triggered calls for festivals and nightclubs to provide more onsite testing as a matter of urgency.

Leading charities, harm reduction experts and the parents of those who have died after taking drugs say such a move would save lives.

The number of drug-related deaths in the UK during 2019 has yet to be confirmed. But this year five people died during the August bank holiday alone while attending festivals and clubs, allegedly as a result of taking super-strength ecstasy pills.

Supporters of onsite drug testing say it reduces harm by rapidly informing the public and the emergency services of dangerous substances in circulation in the area.

Professor Fiona Measham, chair in criminology at the University of Liverpool and a director of the Loop, a harm reduction charity involved in compiling the data, said her research showed that festivals are sites of “atypical intoxication” where illegal drug use is “both more widespread and more risky than elsewhere”.

More than 50% attending take drugs, and of those who do, over half admit to taking larger quantities than normal. They also admit taking a wider range of drugs, including psychedelics.

“How should we respond to this?” said Measham. “We have two choices. Festivals could keep increasing the police and sniffer dogs at the gates, and undercover police and security inside, but this study shows that over half of festivalgoers are undeterred by this.

“People either hide their drugs where they can’t be found or buy from festival drug dealers onsite who we know from our research are twice as likely as neighbourhood dealers to missell them adulterants or other dangerous substances. Or we focus on public health and safety instead.”

Measham said her research had found that a considerable number of people who take drugs only do so at festivals. Among this cohort are middle-aged festivalgoers who leave their children with their grandparents for the weekend “to have an annual blow-out”.

“These ‘festival-only’ drug-users are more vulnerable to harm, as their tolerance and their knowledge of the current drug market are both likely to be low,” Measham said.

Last year 92 people died as a result of taking MDMA compared with 56 the previous year. The deaths have triggered calls from experts for festivals to invest in better medical, welfare and testing facilities onsite.

Currently only around 2% of UK festivals provide drug-testing facilities. Janine Milburn, whose 18-year-old daughter Georgia died at a festival last year after taking two pure MDMA pills, is among those who have backed calls for wider testing.

“I do truly believe that if testing were made the normal thing to do then many more lives could be saved,” she said. “You know then what you are taking. In Georgia’s case she would have known it was high strength, and she would have been given honest advice along with that.”, says Janine.

Niamh Eastwood, executive director of Release, the UK’s centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law, said festival organisers had a duty of care to festivalgoers.

“We have heard from festivalgoers that conditions at some of the bigger festivals this summer were pretty shocking, with a lack of basic facilities, including access to water,” she said. “This is very concerning, regardless of whether people are taking illicit drugs.

“Much more should be done, including supporting and funding drug-checking services like the Loop and ensuring there are welfare services onsite to create a festival culture with harm reduction, community care and safer consumption as central priorities.”

Eastwood said using security measures to combat drug-taking was misguided. “The use of sniffer dogs and other criminal justice measures is incredibly worrying, as we know that people tend to take a larger quantity of drugs to avoid such detection, putting them at risk of overdose and other health harms.

“We know from evidence around the world that increased law enforcement does not effectively reduce consumption, nor does it save lives. Harm reduction does. It is time for festivals to take a stand with regard to prioritising safety over surveillance and people over profits.”


  1. What are you expecting at a rave or music festival? Now they push for druggie safe zones?

  2. Dancesafe has been doing this since the late 90s.
    Not all people who consume drugs are druggies. There are many who want to take a bit of ecstasy and dance till the sunrises and don't want to hurt a soul. Peace, love, unity and respect. I've been attwnding for a raves and festivals for years! Some of the most kind and loving people I have ever met.

  3. thank god my hayday was back in the 80s.

  4. They would be better off forcing the festivals to pay the police to provide security. My son went to two of these events last year and on both it was the security that had allowed certain sellers in. They were litterally selling the hippy crack and drugs next to the security. Apparently the sellers pay them so much each night for the right to sell, he had even found out how much but I’ve forgotten it. They’re all in it together and the only ones stopped are the ones not paying for it. He also said that he felt any drugs seized were sold back to their approved dealers. He’s the kind of kid that usually watches and is spot on with things like this. He had even worked out figures for the hippy crack per seller and how much they must have made that weekend (again I forget as it was a while ago) and said they make more out of the drugs sold than they do the ticket prices. It needs stopping.

  5. We live in a drug epidemic world wide

    1. Drugs have been used by hominids since the beginning of time. We have a PROHIBITION epidemic started by some country that feels it has the moral need to shove his policies to the rest of the world.

      100 years ago you could buy morphine or cocaine at your local pharmacy. Puritans and religious nuts ruined the world.

  6. Use drugs; accept the consequence “pendejos.”


    1. Hope you don't drink or smoke because that makes you a drug addict too.

    2. @4:05

      Keep using Meth you Baboon.

      Write back in a few years if you are not a vegetable.


    3. Sounds like he hit a nerve. Let me guess, an alcoholic?


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