UK: On July 28 MADE Festival will introduce Multi Agency Safety Testing (MAST) as part of its new harm reduction strategy, allowing festival-goers to test their drugs and make more informed choices. This is the first time such safety testing has been used in the West Midlands.
The decision to use MAST is the result of a new partnership with The Loop, West Midlands Police, the Police and Crime Commissioner, and Birmingham City Council.
Pete Jordan, MADE Festival’s Festival Director, said: “As Birmingham’s leading music festival, the safety of our customers is our top priority. We are pleased to be working in collaboration with The Loop, West Midlands Police, the Police and Crime Commissioner and Birmingham City Council to create a safe and enjoyable experience for all who attend. MADE Festival maintains its anti-drug stance, and we strongly urge people not to bring illegal substances to the event.”
The Loop has worked successfully with a number of festivals over the last five years in helping to introduce an approach focused on harm reduction. Their onsite team will also provide a counselling and support service for anyone who may be experiencing problems as a result of drug or alcohol use.
Fiona Measham, The Loop’s Director, said: “The Loop will be delivering our drug safety testing service at over 10 festivals across the UK this summer so we have a growing understanding of what is circulating in the illegal drug market, what is missold and what the risks might be. It is vitally important that we test in the Midlands and collect test data to inform not just festival-goers but also onsite and off site emergency services so everyone knows what is in circulation. We are delighted to be in the UK’s second city for the first time, with such strong support from the partner agencies who invited us here.”
The Loop’s MAST service is a form of drug safety testing whereby individual users submit samples for analysis and receive their results as part of a confidential, individually tailored harm reduction package, which facilitates a direct dialogue between the customer and The Loop’s specialist harm reduction team. This results in a greater understanding of the drugs that may be taken and subsequently a much reduced risk of harm.
This announcement signifies a progressive approach to public safety employed by West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, West Midlands Police and Birmingham Council.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, said: “I support drug safety testing because it can prevent deaths of young people from harmful substances. Also it can reduce the cost to public services of drug taking. Drugs are extremely dangerous and people always put themselves at risk when they consume them. I do not condone drug use, but we need to be realistic that a minority of young people are using drugs despite the risks. Safety testing can actually reduce the number of drugs that are used at an event. It is not uncommon for festival-goers to voluntarily dispose of their drugs after safety testing reveals what they are composed of. Safety testing is an evidence based idea that has worked elsewhere in the country to reduce harm and alleviate demand on emergency services.
“If we are to cut crime and save lives there’s one thing we can all agree on: we need fresh ideas. Beyond our moral duty to protect life, the potential savings for public services, and in turn the taxpayer, could be vast if just one serious overdose is prevented. Safety testing also helps the police to gather intelligence on new drugs in the region. That intelligence can then be used to warn people of the dangers around these substances, and to prosecute the dealers who are putting profit above young people’s lives.
“I would like to thank MADE Festival for the bold step they have taken and The Loop for delivering this initiative. Too many young lives are being lost in the country. I want us to find new ways to protect those young people.”
Following four years of consecutively sold out events, MADE Festival returns on July 28 with a line-up that includes Dizzee Rascal, DJ EZ, Kurupt FM, Andy C, DJ Q, Chris Lorenzo, Camelphat and more.