‘Robust’ anti-drug measures set for Victorious Festival in wake of Mutiny deaths

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VICTORIOUS Festival will take place with ‘additional’ measures against illicit drugs after two young people died at Mutiny Festival, organisers have confirmed.

James Ralls, founder of the annual music event, made the comment today while pledging to tighten security at this year’s spectacle.

Victorios Festival founder James Ralls

Victorios Festival founder James Ralls

It comes after music events in Portsmouth were scrubbed following the tragic deaths at Mutiny over the weekend.

Yesterday, Portsmouth City Council revealed it was axing the Live at the Bandstand gigs this weekend over fears of a dangerous batch of ecstasy pills circulating in the city. Shows will resume later in the year.

But Mr Ralls said the city’s flagship music festival – earmarked to kick off near the end of August – would still go ahead with ‘robust’ new measures in place to tackle drug-use.

READ MORE: Mutiny Festival deaths: Portsmouth council leader says large events postponed over fears of ‘more bad drugs’

Victorious Festival in 2017. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Victorious Festival in 2017. Picture: Habibur Rahman

He said: ‘Our thoughts are with those affected by the heartbreaking incident at Mutiny Festival at the weekend.

‘Victorious Festival will go ahead as planned.

‘We continue to work very closely with local police and other agencies and have robust measures in place to minimise the use of drugs.

‘In light of the tragedy at Mutiny Festival, we’re looking at additional ways to reduce the use of illegal substances.’

As previously reported, the final day of Mutiny Festival was axed on Sunday following the deaths of Georgia Jones, 18, and Tommy Cowan, 20.

The pair were among 15 people who were taken to hospital after the opening day of the festival, based on King George V playing fields in Cosham.

READ MORE: ‘We’re devastated but nothing compares to Georgia and Tommy’s families’ loss’ – Mutiny Festival founder speaks out

Organisers said they were cancelling the event in an effort to protect revellers from a potential-lethal batch of ecstasy pills.

On Wednesday, Portsmouth City Council took the decision to postpone the Live at the Bandstand event this weekend amid growing safety concerns.

This sparked a backlash from some people on social media. However, the decision was backed by the organiser of Bandstand events, Nick Courtney, who said he ‘fully accepted’ the move.

Question marks still remain over the future of Mutiny Festival, with Luke Betts – the event’s boss – saying it was too early to tell what would happen to the annual event.

However, during an interview today city council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson hinted the show was ‘unlikely to get another chance’.

Councillor Vernon-Jackson said the authority’s licensing committee would be looking long and hard at any future application by event organisers.

‘If the organisers of Mutiny Festival come back when things went so terribly wrong this time, I think it’s unlikely that the licensing panel will give them a second chance,’ he said. ‘I could be wrong but I just don’t see it happening.’

His statement echoes sentiments by the council’s former leader, Donna Jones, who has demanded the event is scrubbed from the city’s cultural calendar.

Mutiny has been running since 2014 with 15,000 people regularly attended each day of the festival.

In 2015 it was staged at the Fontwell Race Course, east of Chichester. The running of the event was widely criticised by residents, Arun district councillors and Sussex Police.

Mutiny came back to Portsmouth in 2016, with last year’s show being marred by assault of under-18 youths, claims under-age children were sneaking into the venue and an allegation of sexual assault against a teenage girl.

READ MORE: Victorious Festival star-studded line-up packed with global superstars

Victorious Festival is due to take place from Friday, August 24, to Sunday, August 26.

Among this year’s headliner acts are the Kaiser Chiefs, The Prodigy, Years & Years and The Libertines.