In a first for UK based festivals, The Secret Garden Party offered on site drug testing service as a free public service.
The event, which was held over the weekend and featuring the likes of Caribou, Air, and Maribou State, was overseen by drug awareness initiative The Loop, who have previously only been able to test discarded drugs or those confiscated by the authorities. The results of the on-site initiative were interested, to say the least, as senior policy analyst for Transform Drug Policy Foundation Steve Rolles 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”.
It should be noted that, although such activities may have occurred on British festival premises before, this was the first time that an established organization worked in congruence with the local police, thus eliminating the risk of arrest for those who chose to participate. In the end, about 200 people took part. Though a small number considering the festival attracted some 30,000, a start none the less.
Included in the substances tested, yielded results such as high strength ecstasy pills, as well as misrepresentations such as anti-malaria tablets sold as ketamine, and ammonium sulphate sold as MDMA. Rolles has said that he hopes to expand the initiative throughout he year into next summer and welcomes the continued cooperation of local police forces by stating, “The police are increasingly pragmatic about drug-taking at festivals, and this is a case of them showing leadership and recognising that the priority should be health and wellbeing, not enforcement”.
Source: The Guardian