Pin It
Secret Garden Party Festival
Secret Garden Party was the first UK festival to offer public drug testingvia Instagram/@thesecretgardenparty

Over half of UK festivalgoers take drugs, cuing calls for onsite testing

Support is growing for the lifesaving service, in the face of record highs for drug deaths

New research has uncovered the extent of drug use at UK festivals, and it’s a lot (who knew?). Data shows that over half of UK festivalgoers use drugs, with over half of those that do taking a larger quantity and variety than normal.

As a result of the research, campaigners have called for more onsite drug testing, a service that has already proven “lifesaving” where it’s been put into effect.

This also follows what appears to be an ongoing increase in drug-related deaths at festivals, clubs, and similar events, with 2019 set to see more than ever.

Professor Fiona Measham, director of The Loop – a non-profit drug safety organisation that has previously run a drug testing initiative and is involved in the new research – suggests that onsite testing remains the best way to reduce these deaths.

“I do truly believe that if testing were made the normal thing to do then many more lives could be saved,” she tells the Guardian, while explaining that stricter enforcement (for example more police and sniffer dogs) isn’t as effective as a deterrent. 

“People either hide their drugs where they can’t be found or buy from festival drug dealers onsite who we know from our research are twice as likely as neighbourhood dealers to missell them adulterants or other dangerous substances.”

Despite this, only around two per cent of UK festivals currently provide drug testing facilities.

Echoing the call for increased testing at UK festivals, a cross-party group of MPs has recently called for the decriminalisation of drug possession nationwide to combat deaths from drug misuse, with policy focusing on healthcare rather than prosecution. In 2018, deaths attributed to drug poisoning in the UK were the highest since records began.