MADE Festival, the two-day event in Birmingham, will offer drug safety testing and onsite counselling as part of a new harm reduction strategy

The festival, which takes place July 28, operates a strict no drugs policy and does not condone illegal drug use, but will introduce Multi Agency Safety Testing (MAST) as part of its new harm reduction strategy. The decision to use MAST is the result of a new partnership between The Loop, a non-profit social enterprise specialising in drug safety testing, West Midlands Police, the Police and Crime Commissioner and Birmingham City Council.

The organiser has stressed that festivalgoers should not try to bring any such substances to Perry Park in Birmingham, MADE Festival’s new home. However, it has decided to introduce MAST which is a free and confidential service that will allow festivalgoers to bring substances of concern to The Loop’s tent for forensic analysis and test results delivered by healthcare professionals.

Pete Jordan, festival director of MADE Festival, commented: “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 with a number of festivals over the last five years and helped to introduce an approach focused on harm reduction. Its 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, director of The Loop, said: “The Loop will be delivering our drug safety testing service at more than ten festivals across the UK this summer, so we have a growing understanding of what is circulating in the illegal drug market, what is mis sold and what the risks might be.

“It is vitally important that we test in the Midlands and collect test data to inform not just festivalgoers but also onsite and offsite emergency services, so that 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 which invited us here.”

David Jamieson, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, added: “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 festivalgoers 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.”