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  1. ITV Report

Calls for radical changes to tackling drug use at music festivals

Credit: Press Association

A charity is calling for radical changes to tackling drug use at music festivals after deaths at two events in the North of England within 24 hours, including one at Leeds Festival.

Drugwise wants testing rolled out at all major events in the UK to allow those taking illegal drugs to find out what they have bought and whether it will be harmful.

The so-called 'front of house' testing was introduced for the first time at Secret Garden Party in Cambridgeshire and at Kendal Calling in Cumbria this year.

  • Director of Drugwise, Harry Shapiro, has told ITV News that drug support charities should be invited onto festival sites.

Police say 58 arrests were made at Leeds Festival over the weekend - two more than last year.

Officers say they worked closely with the festival’s organisers to target drug dealing at the event. This year they also deployed a new piece of equipment. The device – a spectrometer - was used to identify drugs quickly, rather than having to send them off for testing.

"We have again seen the vast majority of those in relation to possessing drugs with intent to supply them. Several related to substances that were previously called 'legal highs', but which are now illegal drugs.  

"These arrests were the direct result of the continued close working relationship that we have with Festival Republic and its staff at Leeds Festival. Other arrests were made for reported assaults and thefts. 

"The number of arrests for other than drugs-related matters remains a small figure for such a major public event, attended this year by around 60,000 people each day."

– Chief Superintendent Keith Gilert

Calls for a fresh debate on the use of drugs as music festivals comes after a 26-year-old man died at Creamfields Festival in Cheshire on Friday night.

A day later, Lewis Haunch, 17, from Greater Manchester fell ill at Leeds Festival and underwent emergency treatment at St James’ Hospital. He was pronounced dead just after midnight on Sunday. Two people arrested in connection with the teenager's death have been released on bail.