Forward-thinking is needed for ‘safe drug use’ at music festivals

Mutiny Festival 'Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180527-154922006)
Mutiny Festival 'Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180527-154922006)
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It was with sadness that I read about the two deaths at this year’s Mutiny Festival.

Music festivals are, for the many who attend, a source of great joy, liberation and unadulterated freedom.

For two young attendees to die in such a manner, in a place designed for fun, makes this tragedy all the more desperate.

In The News’ article on May 29, Cllr Fuller claims that it ‘isn’t easy to say what is needed in retrospect’, and that he/they really don’t know what the answer is.

This is entirely understandable and it’s surely a difficult issue to legislate for.

If I may, I would like to make a forward-thinking suggestion to Cllrs Fuller and Pitt.

As an experienced festival attendee, I know better than most that drugs are par for the course over the weekend.

This is an inevitability that no legislation can really ever guard against – if people are set on taking a load of drugs, then they will, come hell or high water.

What seems apparent is not the need for increased security, but increased safety.

There are a handful of festivals, including Reading Festival, who now invite testers on site to offer free and discreet analysis of attendees’ drugs.

Those with substances can have a small amount tested and know that what they’re taking hasn’t been laced or spiked with anything sinister. Those who test the drugs are also able to offer free advice and a drop-in centre at the festival for those concerned about what they’ve taken or are thinking about taking.

While I’m sure the police and the council’s initial reaction will be to knuckle down and penalise Mutiny for a breach of its licence, perhaps it might instead be a good opportunity for our new Liberal Democrat councillors to demonstrate their liberal values by enacting a forward-thinking policy that encourages responsible and safe drug use at festivals.

Fred Stonehouse

Norfolk Street, Southsea