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August 4, 2017 Posted by admin in Events

Festival Drugs Amnesty

Safety rather than legal condemnation is the focus of a scheme which allows festival revellers to have their drugs tested to ensure that they don’t contain dangerous additives. Lucy Reid

The call to increase such testing comes from the unlikely quarter of the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) which says that the service “will help minimise the risk of serious health harm as a result of recreational drug use.”

The move follows fatalities at several UK festivals with RSPH reporting that ecstasy deaths in England and Wales are up almost six-fold from 10 in 2010 to 57 in 2015. The drug safety testing was piloted in the UK at the Secret Garden Party and Kendal Calling festivals last summer, with the support of event organisers, local police and public health authorities. RSPH said that around one in five users decided to ditch their drugs when the true constituents were revealed by on-site testing. Event organisers have also backed reports of drugs being laced with insecticides and other foreign bodies.

The result is that drug users have been offered an amnesty from legal retribution if they present their drugs to The Loop, the on-site service provider that administers lab testing of drugs under the banner, MAST: Multi Agency Safety Testing. Headed by ‘drug scientist’ Professor Fiona Measham MAST claims the full support of the police.

She said:“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. Here at the Secret Garden Party we took a big step forward because for the first time we’ve been able to offer the testing service to individual users as part of a tailored advice and information package provided by a team of experienced drugs workers.”

The eminent sense of the initiative was applauded by Secret Garden Party’s ‘Head Gardener’ Freddie Fellowes who added: "I am thrilled that we are able to pioneer this service; 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."

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