Drug checking services make festivals safer, new Uni of Liverpool study finds

The study was the first of its kind that assessed both the positive and negative impact of providing drug checking

New research led by staff from the University of Liverpool has shown that drug checking services make festivals safer. The three-year study, published in conjunction with The Loop, has found that drug checking services at festivals reduce the possibility of drug-related harm.

According to a recent press release by the University, evidence shows that testing also provides opportunities for targeted health interventions amongst higher risk drug users. On balance, on-site testing does not result in increased quantities of drugs being consumed.

A key finding of the study suggested that in 2018, when The Loop’s testing service was accessed by over 250,000 festival-goers, almost two thirds of people disposed of substances of concern when they were identified as other than expected.

UOL’s Chair in Criminology Professor Fiona Measham, who led the research, commented: “we know that English festivals are leisure settings with higher levels of drug use, polydrug use and therefore a higher overdose risk than in everyday life”.

She continued further saying: “by placing drug checking services at the heart of festivals where people are buying drugs, taking drugs and experiencing their ill effects, we can also make festivals sites of overdose prevention. Drug checking provides a vital opportunity for people to access accurate, timely, and relevant information to make more informed decisions about drugs and the long queues outside The Loop’s services are testament to their popularity.”

According to their website, in 2016 The Loop introduced the UK’s first event-based drug checking services which were at two festivals which were Secret Garden Party and Kendal Calling. In 2018 they introduced the UK’s first community-based drug checking services in Bristol and Durham with the support of local police.

Greater Manchester Police, amongst other key community figures, have testified on The Loop’s website that: “it is not hyperbole to say that the work of The Loop helps save lives.”

You can access the full article here.

If you have been affected by the themes discussed here, please see Mind’s list of useful contacts for support related to drug and alcohol use.

Featured Image credit: via Unsplash @aaronpaulos