Thousands of festival-goers will have the chance to forensically test their illegal drugs before they take them in a bid to reduce drug-induced deaths this year.
The scheme is being run with the support of local police forces in a bid to increase public safety. Reading and Leeds, as well as a number of other big live music events, will be introducing the project.
Speaking to the Press Association, Festival Republic’s Melvin Benn, who organises 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 National Police Chiefs’ Council supported the principle of it, it was difficult for us to move forward on it.”
A draft of an agreement to make it simpler for police forces across the UK to support the scheme has been created, but the project will not be rolled out in time for Download next month.
“We’ll see it this year for definite… at Leeds I’m pretty certain.
“It’s taken a long time and it won’t be at every festival, but where we think there is a need to do it we will be doing it.”
How Will It Work?
Revellers will be encouraged to take their drugs to a special drugs testing tent, which is run by The Loop. The Loop is an organisation usually called on to conduct forensic testing of drugs when they are seized by the police.
They will test the sample of drugs given to them and tell festival goers exactly what is in what they are about to take – and whether or not they are lethally dangerous. They will then destroy whatever has been handed over for testing.
The decision to introduce the scheme comes after the drug-related death of 17-year-old Lewis Haunch at Leeds Festival last year. Two teenagers also perished at T In The Park.
Andy Battle, assistant chief constable for West Yorkshire Police, confirmed to Newsbeat that the Leeds force were considering supporting the festival organisers with The Loop project.
“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,” he said.