UK government called on for more drug testing at festivals

Members of the UK parliament’s Home Affairs Committee have issued a new report that calls upon the government to establish drug-testing facilities at music festivals.

The report, which can be read in full here, notes that “the main piece of legislation controlling drugs in the UK” is the Misuse of Drugs Act from 1971. The report also identifies the way commonly controlled drugs in the UK are classified and scheduled, as per the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001. Both, the report argues, are “in need of review” and a formal reassessment.

“UK policy should ensure that an approach originally and primarily based on criminal justice principles continues to adapt to achieve a proper balance of public health interventions that may reduce illicit drug use in the longer term rather than aiming simply to disrupt demand,” the summary reads.


Dame Diana Johnson, Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, shared a statement yesterday (August 31) emphasising the “significant harm to individuals and society” that drug usage can cause.

“Whilst the [government’s] drug strategy is moving in the right direction, it requires much more meaningful action to tackle the broad range of drug-related problems,” she said.

In June, the Home Office retracted its support for drug testing at festivals, citing the need for licenses under the aforementioned Misuse of Drugs Regulations legislation that would take up to three months to approve. The decision came two days before Parklife Festival in Manchester, which prompted its founder Sacha Lord to criticise Home Secretary Suella Braverman and threaten legal action.

“This on-site testing has saved lives, and the absence of it puts lives at risk,” Lord said in a protocol letter to Braverman via his solicitors.

“The Home Office must put an end to this reckless disregard for the safety of festival goers, and reinstate the existing Memorandum of Understanding with immediate effect. The industry works tirelessly to ensure we do everything possible to safeguard the public. If the Home Office continues not to support us in this vital work, we will be left with no other choice but to call for a full investigation and consultation.”