The Loop will no longer be testing drugs for people at Boomtown Fair this week due to “ongoing legal complexities”.
Boomtown were informed towards the end of last week the ‘Multi Agency Safety Testing’ provision was under threat and despite working around the clock confirmed yesterday The Loop’s service would be unavailable.
The Loop said it’s not a funding issue and “it’s not a case of not being ‘allowed’, it’s just that all of the key stakeholders ran out of time on this occasion.”
The drugs safety service has been available at the festival since 2017, when they tested over 1,100 samples, and was set to return this year. The Loop allowed festivalgoers to provide a sample of a substance for scientific analysis, in an effort to reduce harms from contamination, missold or high-strength substances. Results are only given after a 15 minute, one-on-one consultation with a harm-reduction professional.
Organisers told TheFestivals: “This isn’t just a Boomtown issue. The Loop have been unable to provide their front-of-house testing service at any UK festival in 2019. They have been providing their back-of-house service at a few events and issuing warnings and education. The Loop will be operational as a welfare, drug advice and information and one-on-one counselling service.
“The provision of front of house drug testing requires a complex array of measures to be in place. Unfortunately, the time (and options) ran out for The Loop to provide their service at Boomtown this year. All stakeholders are hopeful that this will just be a temporary set back in the grand scheme of drugs testing services at festivals in the UK.“
Boomtown will still be testing drugs found in amnesty bins and by security with another provider, TICTAC. Information about any substances deemed by TICTAC to “present a real threat to anyone using them on-site” will then be passed to festival organisers.
In addition to this, Boomtown have now agreed that TICTAC will provide emergency identification of any substance at any time throughout the festival.
Anyone planning to use The Loop’s services at Boomtown is advised to install the Boomtown app to receive notifications of urgent updates, as organisers “will be keeping everyone informed as best we can with any substances of concern that are identified” through back-of-house testing. Boomtown also suggest reading the harm reduction pages of their website and following both the festival itself and The Loop on social media. Alerts will also be displayed on screens around the festival and be passed to information points.
Organisers said other harm reduction measures in place will include two medical centres, two welfare centres operated by Chill Welfare, roaming campsite welfare, Cocaine Anonymous and an on-call mental health response team.
Tom Hardcastle, a volunteer with The Loop, said on Twitter: “Everyone involved has been trying to negotiate to have the loop on-site doing front of house, but unfortunately time ran out.”
The full statement posted on the Boomtown website said: “As many are aware for the past 2 years we have been working alongside The Loop to provide front of house drugs safety service, we are deeply saddened to announce that they are no longer able to provide the drugs safety testing service at the festival this year.
“We were informed towards the end of last week, the provision of this service at this year’s festival may no longer be possible. Since then, we have been working around the clock with all the key stakeholders to try to find a resolution, however, despite all of our efforts, the ongoing legal complexities has meant that The Loop are unable to provide the front of house drug safety testing element of their valuable and respected services at this year’s event.
“We will continue to provide our robust and extensive medical and welfare support onsite and The Loop will still be in attendance providing expert one-on-one counselling, drug awareness and safety advice for free at this year’s festival. We will also work with our back-of-house drug testing service provider, TICTAC, to identify harmful substances circulating at the festival and keep those in attendance informed with as much factual information as possible throughout the weekend via our social channels, festival app and on the ground.
“Please remember drugs are illegal and can, and do kill.
“No drug is ‘safe’.
“Respect yourself. Respect each other.”
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