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At Least Six UK Festivals Plan to Allow Drug Testing This Summer

Cambridgeshire's Secret Garden Party led the charge last year.
Photo by Sam Neill for Reading Festival

This summer, at least six music festivals in the UK are aiming to make their events safer for attendees. As the BBC reports, events including Reading and Leeds Festivals are proposing a plan to allow drug testing this summer pending the support of local authorities.

Melvin Benn, the director of UK music promoter Festival Republic, estimates that the number of festivals involved in the scheme ranges anywhere from "six to ten." At these festivals, attendees can have their drugs tested to see what exactly is in them. Testing will be conducted by The Loop, a harm reduction organization that conducts forensic testing of drugs at UK festivals and nightclubs and provides follow-up support.

"We talked about it during the summer of last year and the reality is that I took a decision that unless and until the National Police Chiefs' Council supported the principle of it, it was difficult for us to move forward on it," Benn told the BBC.

West Yorkshire Police assistant chief constable Andy Battle told the BBC that his team are considering supporting the measure. "We can never condone the use of illegal drugs, but we recognize that some people will continue to take them and we need to adapt our approach in the interests of public safety."

Last year, Cambridgeshire's Secret Garden Party became the first UK festival to offer drug testing. Approximately 200 people used the service. During the first days and a half of the festival, more than 80 substances were tested, the Guardian reported; identified substances included "very high-strength" ecstasy pills as well as an anti-malaria tablet sold as ketamine, and ammonium sulfate sold as MDMA.