Tougher licensing laws may be brought in for county's big festivals after deaths at Mutiny
TOUGHER licensing rules may be brought in for festivals in Hampshire to try to prevent tragic cases such as last month's two deaths at MutinyÂ happening again.
Health experts and councillors from around the county have agreed to rethink licensing regulations for festivals to avert further loss of life.
Last month Tommy Cowan, 20, and 18-year-old Georgia Jones died at Mutiny Festival at King George V playing fields in Cosham.
Director of public health for Portsmouth and Southampton, Dr Jason Horsley, said that currently the health of the public is not a primary objective in England when making licensing decisions. In Scotland there are more licensing objectives about protecting and promoting health.
At a health overview and scrutiny panel Dr Horsley said: ‘There’s pretty good evidence that if you take a harder line on licensing people are less likely to come to harm. Councils that had a cumulative impact policy in place were more likely to see a reduction in this area in both anti-social behaviour and crimes against the person, and also in the number of admissions to hospital.
‘We were concerned last year by the previous Mutiny Festival and some of the problems that came out of that. We had asked for a review of the licence as a result.
‘I understand it’s very hard to put on an event like that and not have anybody come to harm. But there are protective measures the council could put in place such as drug testing on site. People could bring them in anonymously and we could have amnesty bins so people can discard drugs if they’re not what they thought they were.’
Portsmouth city councillor Steve Weymss said: ‘I can’t help but think there is nothing to stop people taking drugs before they arrive. Is this something that can be considered? And I don’t think banning festivals is the answer.’
Dr Horsley agreed. ‘The raves in the 90s proved you can’t stop things like this happening. We need to regulate festivals and make sure they’re safe,’ he said.
Cllr Philip Raffaelli from Gosport Borough Council believed more education on drugs was needed.
He added: ‘We need to explain exactly what these things are doing so they can make an informed decision. Many students who might try drugs live at home until they come to university and aren’t aware of what the drugs do.’
It was decided Dr Horsley would put together suggestions for how licensing for festivals should be tackled.
Councillors will then take these ideas to their councils for future debate.