Fears Over Illegal Drug Use In Festivals Prevail After Lockdown Ends In England News

Fears Over Illegal Drug Use In Festivals Prevail After Lockdown Ends In England

Author's avatar Clout News Desk

Time icon March 18, 2021

The government is “deeply concerned” about the possibility of deaths due to illegal drugs at festivals this summer.

If the locks are raised as planned, major events are expected to continue from June 21 onwards in England – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are scheduled to coincide with the same period.

Charities are worried “pent-up” energy could increase the amount people take.


They are also concerned about the strength of the drug and the lack of testing to identify bad batches.

Experts appeared before MPs during the hearing on Tuesday.

Katie (not her real name) has tickets for two major festivals this summer. She usually takes MDMA for ceremonies, but she has not taken it too seriously during the lockdown period.

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“My boyfriend and I have been talking about how low our tolerance is, so we’ll be careful,” she told Radio 1 Newsbeat

“We’re always careful, because you’re an idiot if you’re not.

“We’re going to try and not get over-excited as soon as we get there, do a little bit, see how it goes and do a bit more.”

She adds that she’s “not that bothered” about breaking the law – but does check information online about potential bad batches that might be doing the rounds.

But that might not be as reliable a tactic this year

Drug Testing

Professor Fiona Measham holds The Loop. Help with drug testing at nightclubs and festivals, informing people exactly what to take.

She was one of the experts who put their concerns to MPs this week.

“We usually put out alerts on social media throughout the summer about drugs we’ve tested we think are particularly dangerous,” she tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

“But while typically we start testing in May or June, this year we probably won’t start knowing what’s in circulation until maybe July or August.

“So really we’ve got one arm behind our backs in terms of being able to tackle this issue.”

Also, as well as concerns about the growing power of drugs, she further also thinks that lifting the lock would mean that”messages of moderation won’t land very well”.

What Are The Experts Saying?

Conservative MP Julian Knight chairs a government committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which heard evidence from drug experts.

After the hearing, he said: “The uncertainty surrounding if and when festivals will take place, a huge pent-up demand from the public combined with a heavy supply of high-risk drugs, risks spelling disaster this summer.”

But Kira Weir, from Scottish drug charity Crew, thinks there’s something else to consider.

“When you think about the experience of taking drugs, it’s not just about the drug you take – it’s about your mindset and the environment,” she says.

“If you’re feeling anxious about being in a large crowd again, or an unfamiliar setting, that can cause increased risk from the drugs you’re taking.

“It can cause people, out of a need to reduce feelings of anxiety, to take more of whatever they’ve taken and put themselves at greater risk.”

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