A drugs testing facility will open its doors for the first time at a music festival close to Sheffield this weekend to help prevent substance-related illness and deaths.
Thousands of music fans are expected to attend the Y Not Festival in Derbyshire and they are being advised about The Loop, which is a free and confidential service where people can take drugs to be forensically examined, and to obtain professional counselling advice on the impacts it may have on them.
By doing so, staff will be able to tell whether a drug has dangerously high levels of intoxicants, psychoactive substances, chemicals, or if they have been cut with something poisonous.
The decision to offer the service at Y Not comes after a number of drugs-related deaths were reported at music festivals earlier this year and is seen as part of a wider preventative and safeguarding plan during the festival.
With up to 30,000 people expected at the Pikehall festival, it’s of paramount importance that the police, partner agencies and the organisers take every step to keep people safe.
Superintendent Michelle Shooter, who is in charge of the policing operation at Y Not 2018, said the facility is intended to help keep people safe and is not a free pass for people to take illegal substances into the festival grounds.
She said: “Our stance will always remain the same – that people should not take drugs, and that there are clear dangers in taking illegal substances. We are not in any way encouraging people to take drugs.
However, we are realistic in the view that some ticket holders will still choose to buy them despite that warning.
“We have seen the impacts of drugs at other festivals this year, which has sadly led to a number of deaths, and we do not want that to happen here.
“The Loop is a service that has been welcomed by other forces for music festivals and I’m pleased that Derbyshire is joining that proactive effort to keep people safe from harm.
“I would encourage anyone who buys pills and other drugs to have them tested. You cannot know what is in them, and the potentially deadly consequences of taking them could be avoided by visiting The Loop.”
Ticket holders who visit The Loop will be given advice by its on-site experts, and information about the dangers of drugs and psychoactive substances.
Drugs that are submitted will be tested using a number of methods, in order to gain as accurate an understanding of the contents as possible.
However, the tests can never be 100 per cent accurate and the purity and contents can vary even within the same batch of drugs.
While The Loop is a service open to people who have decided to buy drugs for their personal use, police officers will still be focusing on those who take drugs to the festival to deal to others.
Superintendent Shooter said: “There will be a strong security and police presence at the festival throughout the weekend, at all times of day.
“We are taking a proactive positive stance towards anyone who will be attending the event in possession of suspected illegal substances and those who attend with the aim of selling drugs to others.”
The decision to include The Loop at Y Not Festival 2018 has been fully supported by the festival organisers and partners, including Derbyshire County Council.
Councillor Carol Hart, the county council cabinet member for health and communities, said: “We support Derbyshire Constabulary in their decision to allow drug testing at this year’s festival.
“We do not condone illegal drug taking but we’re not naïve, we know it goes on and just want festivalgoers to be as safe as possible.”