Academics call for national database on drug-related harm at music festivals

todayNovember 22, 2023 1

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A “small but significant” number of people die in the UK after taking drugs at music festivals, according to a new study.

Academics from the University of Liverpool estimated that between 2017 and 2023 there were 32 drug-related deaths at UK music festivals, including Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds, Creamfields and the Isle of Wight Festival.

But only 18 have been confirmed, they said.

Ecstasy was the drug linked to the most deaths, with others including ketamine and prescription medicines.

The study, published in the journal Drug Science, Politics and Law, mentions a teenager who died after taking ecstasy at Leeds Festival.

David Celino, 16, died after falling ill at the festival last August, an inquest was told earlier this year.

The boy, from Worsley, Greater Manchester, became ill after taking ecstasy, which his group bought from a dealer in the Camping Plus area of the festival, and died after being taken to hospital in Leeds.

The researchers said there is no standard process for reporting or accessing data on medical incidents at music festivals.

They collated the information by cross-referencing media and social media content with a national database contributed to by coroners and also spoke to bereaved families.

The team has called for a publicly accessible national database – updated in real time – of drug-related medical incidents at UK music festivals.

Professor Fiona Measham, chairwoman of criminology at the University of Liverpool, said: “Our research has shown that there is a small but significant number of drug-related deaths at UK music festivals each year.

“It is clear that more needs to be done to reduce drug-related harm, to ensure that everyone can enjoy festivals safely and to prevent any other parents hearing the heartbreaking news that their child won’t be coming home.

“While our research has shed light on the issue, currently we’re in a situation where we don’t know the definite number of drug-related deaths at festivals.

“This makes it extremely difficult for everyone to understand whether the situation is getting better or worse and whether festival health initiatives such as drug-checking services, amnesty bins and medical services are effective.

“Introducing a transparent, real-time publicly accessible database of drug-related harm across festivals would provide a comprehensive picture of the extent of the issue and whether or not on-site festival support services are effective.”

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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