During a recent debate in Parliament, Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire also called for all clubs and festivals to make onsite testing a requirement.
The issue is a hot topic at the moment, as drug safety charities such as The Loop continue to fight to have clubs, festivals and cities sign up to use their services. The debate reached the House Of Commons on Friday, July 6th, with Conservative minister Nick Hurd conceding that, while there is no plan to soften existing drug laws, the government can "do more to reduce the risk of harm to young people at festivals" and won't "stand in the way" of local police forces should they decide to allow drug testing.
"Last Friday was a great day in Parliament for The Loop," Fiona Measham, director of The Loop, told Resident Advisor. "Most heartening of all was hearing the government statement on The Loop's drug safety testing from Nick Hurd. Given that the government can and has stood in the way of drug consumption rooms—another proven harm reduction measure—this is a really positive step forward that has excited lots of people in the UK drug treatment world. It is also the green light that a lot of festivals, police and local authorities were waiting for. Just since last Friday, we have been approached by another four festivals and currently are providing a testing service in 13 or 14 UK festivals this summer."
Also present at the debate was Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire, who raised the issue and who, in the past, has been critical of the current government's approach to the war on drugs. "Giving everyone clear information about the substances they intend to consume helps reduce risk and prevent harm—we can do it for alcohol and we can do it for other drugs within the current legal frameworks," she said. "Let's make it a requirement that festivals and, if possible, nightclubs, have to ensure there is drug safety testing available for every event they run."
Recent research conducted by The Loop and other bodies confirms that drug-related deaths among young clubbers are on the rise. In May, two people, aged 18 and 20 respectively, died at Mutiny Festival in Portsmouth after taking super-strength ecstasy pills.
Watch the parliamentary debate.