At last year’s Leeds Festival, 17-year-old Lewis Haunch collapsed right after taking illegal drugs. He passed away at a hospital shortly after. Now, to avoid similar tragedies which have become common in UK music festivals, Live Nation subsidiary Festival Republic will spearhead a new initiative that will allow festivalgoers to screen their illegal drugs beforehand.
Speaking with The Guardian, Festival Republic boss Melvin Benn explained the new initiative. Festivalgoers can take their illegal narcotics to testing tents. The Loop, the organization that will run the tents, will conduct forensic testing and tell them what’s inside the drugs. Then, they’ll destroy whatever illegal narcotics festivalgoers handed over.
The Loop usually conducts forensic testing drugs seized by police ficers. Melvin Benn admitted that not all UK music festivals will have access to drug testing just yet.
Benn wants to bring voluntarily drug testing to between six and ten music festivals this year. He hopes that the initiative will reduce drug-related deaths.
Andy Battle spearheads the policing operation for the Leeds Festival. An assistant chief constable for the West Yorkshire police, he admitted that they can’t stop everyone from consuming drugs.
“We can never condone the use illegal drugs, but we recognise that some people will continue to take them and we need to adapt our approach in the interests public safety.
“Consuming controlled drugs is inherently dangerous and the tragic consequences this have been illustrated with drugs-related deaths at the event in recent years.”
The Loop first ran drug testing last year at Secret Garden Party in Cambridgeshire. 200 festivalgoers tested their drugs. The Loop’s founder, Fiona Measham, praised the initiative as “radical.” She stated,
Not everyone agrees with the initiative, however. Speaking with the Metro, Simon Bray, the NPCC’s commander, said,