Industry News

Events leaders call for judicial review over drug-testing ‘U-turn’

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Parklife founder Sacha Lord and the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) have demanded a judicial review in the UK following the Home Office’s decision to ban on-site ‘pop-up’ labs to test drugs at festivals.

In a letter to the Home Office, the body that represents more than 1400 venues, clubs and bars, along with entrepreneur Lord, who is Greater Manchester’s night-time economy advisor, accuse Home Secretary Suella Braverman of “putting lives at risk” after her department demanded licences to test drugs at all festivals.

In the letter, the NTIA and Lord demand that the decision be immediately reversed and the previously agreed arrangement for drug testing be restarted.

Lord stated: “The Home Office must put an end to this reckless disregard for the safety of festival goers and reinstate the existing Memorandum of Understanding with immediate effect. The industry works tirelessly to ensure we do everything possible to safeguard the public. If the Home Office continues not to support us in this vital work we will be left with no other choice but to call for a full investigation and consultation.”

The Home Office announced on June 8, 2023 that on-site drugs testing at music festivals would require a Controlled Drugs Licence and that testing must take place at a named, permanent premises rather than at festival sites. The leading provider of on-site drug testing, The Loop, was informed at the beginning of June that a Controlled Drugs Licence was needed which would require the company to have a permanent laboratory.

The NTIA and Lord claim that on-site drug testing labs have been available at music festivals in the UK since 2014, describing the Home Office’s recent action as a “dramatic U-turn”. They assert that information collected by the labs, particularly in relation to dangerous drugs, can be shared with festival goers. On-site testing also enables medical teams to treat anyone who has an adverse reaction quickly and effectively because they will already be aware of the drugs chemical composition.

Michael Kill, the NTIA’s chief executive, said: “The Home Office must reverse their decision for 2023, and consider the true impact of withdrawing a practice which has been operating safely in some regions for over 10 years, with the full knowledge and support of the Police and local authorities.

“The festivals and events sector work extremely hard to ensure festival goers are kept safe, and rely heavily on back of house drug testing as a vital part of the overarching harm reduction strategy. Without this facility we are putting people’s lives at risk, leaving a considerable void in drug intelligence for Police and medical support services on the ground for the rest of the 2023 season.”