Demands for action to tackle gangs dealing drugs at Mutiny Festival

TIGHTER controls are needed to halt the flow of drugs being smuggled into Mutiny Festival, city leaders and festival-goers have demanded.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 4:30 pm
Members of the security team at Mutiny   Picture: Duncan Shepherd
Members of the security team at Mutiny Picture: Duncan Shepherd

People who were at Saturday’s event have said they were horrified by the rampant use of narcotics.

Some claimed people were passing through security check points quickly with little – if any – inspection being made.

Meanwhile, question marks last night remained over Mutiny Festival’s future after the tragic deaths of Georgia Jones, 18, and Tommy Cowan, 20.

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Members of the security team at Mutiny Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Mutiny boss Luke Betts said it was too early to say what will happen to the event amid mounting pressure for it to be scrubbed from the city’s cultural line-up.

But Councillor Donna Jones, former leader of Portsmouth City Council, said the music festival should no longer have a place in Portsmouth.

The Tory group leader said: ‘It was a disaster when it was in Fontwell; last year there were serious allegations of sexual touching against minors and now we have had the death of two young people with many, many more left in hospital.

‘That’s why Mutiny has had its day. I would not like to see it come back to Portsmouth.’

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Mutiny was cancelled on Sunday morning following the deaths of Georgia, from Havant, and dad-of-one Tommy, of West Leigh.

They were among 15 people taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham after the opening day of the festival.

One person who was admitted to hospital in a critical condition was yesterday said to be ‘stable’, a spokeswoman for Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust confirmed.

Safety fears prompted festival chiefs to pull the plug on the Sunday line-up in a decision Mutiny said had ‘not been taken lightly’, having earlier warned of a ‘bad batch’ of a substance.

But those at the event said more should have been done to stop drugs from getting on to the site in the first place.

Emily Burgess, of Hilsea, was among the 15,000 revellers to attend the show, at King George V Playing Fields.

The 21-year-old said she was shocked at what she saw.

‘This was my first festival and I don’t think I ever want to go to another one.

‘There were people everywhere passed out.

‘People were doing drugs openly. I went to the main arena and people were doing drugs around me.

‘They were smoking all kinds of things and sniffing drugs. It was a surreal experience. It was outrageous.’

She added she was concerned by the search procedure carried out when she entered the site.

‘I went through and nobody even checked my bag,’ she said.

‘A security guard opened it up, took a quick glance and sent me through – there was no pat down, nothing was taken out.’

Oliver Gardiner, managing director of Vespasian Security – which manned the gates – last night defended his team amid the mounting criticism.

He said they were very experienced and worked within ‘strict guidelines’ to carry out agreed procedures as part of Mutiny’s licensing deal.

Although the team was conducting the search operation at the festival gates, Mr Gardiner added they could not take on full body searches – a role only police could do.

He said: ‘I personally was present all weekend and our team of professionals handled multiple roles around the site, including the search operation at the festival entry gates.

‘We liaise extensively with Hampshire Constabulary and other authorities in preparations for the event and our crowd control and security team on Saturday totalled 175 against the requirement of 155.

‘On the day a team of police worked alongside our SIA-licensed teams to manage access and searches on the gates.

‘Three drugs dogs were also working those gates and every gate was monitored by CCTV.’

Festival bosses have also come under fire for a ‘lack’ of free drinking water available at the site.

Fiona Measham, director of drug-testing charity The Loop, said scores of revellers complained about the sites’s 21 water taps.

Mutiny said all of the taps had been working and that free water was available at the medical and welfare facilities in the grounds. But Mrs Measham said by 4pm the water was dribbling out taps, with people sayingthey collapsed through dehydration.

She said: ‘We need to be looking after customers better and not treating them like cattle. Festivals spend so much on paying for top acts to attend their events – why can’t more be spent on the welfare of their customers?’