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​UK government urged to back drug safety testing at festivals this summer

Since 2017, there have been at least 14 drug-related deaths at festivals in England

  • Gemma Ross
  • 9 June 2021
​UK government urged to back drug safety testing at festivals this summer

The government has been urged to undertake drug safety testing at festivals and events this summer to prevent drug-related deaths.

A new committee under the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) department has put out a call for the government to introduce drug testing services at events after evidence showing that there have been at least 14 drug-related deaths at music festivals in England since 2017.

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“The government should introduce a dedicated licensing scheme for drug checking to set a clear legal framework and minimum standards that service providers must meet,” said the DCMS.

The Home Office stated in 2018 that the government “would not stand in the way” of drug testing at festivals and clubs, however, only a limited number of events currently provide these checks.

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Two people died in 2018 at Hampshire’s Mutiny Festival after taking high-strength MDMA while 15 were hospitalised - some of which with drug-related symptoms. Georgia Jones was amongst the two deaths at just 18 years old.

Her mother, Janine Milburn, told The Guardian: “I honestly believe that if Georgia had been able to test her substance and given some advice on how to remain safe, she might have come home alive that day. I think if people are given truthful drug education – with testing encouraged and facilitated not just at festivals – then drug-related deaths would be significantly lower.”

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The Loop is the current main provider of drug testing services at events such as festivals and club nights, with more now being urged to open up following evidence from the DCMS that these services could save lives and protect young people from dangerous situations.

The committee tweeted on May 29 about the Future Of Festivals Inquiry: “The government should clarify the legal position of drug testing services.”

Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter

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