UK Festival used drugs testing service for partygoers for first time

The Secret Garden Party, a music festival in Cambridgeshire, was the first in the UK to use illegal drug testing, last weekend.

It is thought around two hundred people used the service, so they could ensure that their illegal drugs did not contain any additional harmful substances, reports the Guardian.

The charity, The Loop, offered the tests which was allowed by the police and council. The possession of drugs was still be illegal but an amnesty was offered to people who were going to use the service.

Concerned attendees were offered the test alongside health and safety advice. Clubs in Amsterdam have offered drug testing for a number of years, to ensure the purity of the drug.

Freddie Fellowes, founder of the Secret Garden Party, was “thrilled” to be the first festival in the UK to offer this life saving service. Fellowes said: “Harm reduction and welfare is a vital part of hosting any event and it’s an area that for too long has seen little development or advancement.”

Fiona Measham, co-founder, added: “The Loop has been conducting forensic testing at events for a number of years, but before now, we’ve only tested drugs seized by police, dropped in amnesty bins or provided by paramedics as a result of a medical incident. In the past we have been able to use that testing information to inform on-site services and for generalised safety alerts.”

During the weekends revelry numerous substances were tested. Super-strength ecstasy tablets were discovered and other drugs where not what they were alleged to be. For example anti-malaria tablets were passed off as ketamine and MDMA was in fact ammonium sulphate.

Steve Rolles, senior policy analyst for Transform Drug Policy Foundation said:

“Around a quarter of people who brought in their drugs then asked us to dispose of them when they discovered that they had been mis-sold or were duds. We were taking dangerous substances out of circulation.”

This apparently successful trial could lead the way for other festivals and all-night music events to offer similar services, in the hope that it will decrease deaths or serious illness by unaware drug users. Other voices have argued that offer these servives will encourage people to take drugs into festivals, which could increase drug use.

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