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NTIA and Parklife Festival co-founder Sacha Lord issue joint letter to Home Office over drug testing U-turn

  • By Ryan Moss

  • 05 Jul 2023
  • 3 min read

Leading figures and organisations of the UK music industry, including Parklife Festival co-founder, Sacha Lord and the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), are urging the Home Office to reconsider its recent ban on on-site drug testing labs at festivals.

Both Lord, who is Greater Manchester’s night-time economy advisor, and the NTIA have accused Home Secretary Suella Braverman of endangering lives by requiring all festivals to obtain a Controlled Drug License to carry out testing on-site, following the Home Office’s controversial decision announced on the 8th of June. The U-turn on the policy now mandates that all testing should be carried out at a named and permanent testing facility.

On-site drug testing has been in place since 2014 with the approval of local authorities, facilitating the circulation of information about dangerous substances and allowing quick medical response where necessary.

The NTIA and Lord dispute the Home Office’s denial of previous drug testing practices and highlight the government’s commitment to supporting harm reduction measures. They argue that sending drugs away for analysis undermines the purpose of on-site testing. They insist that the Home Office should prioritize public safety and reinstate the existing agreement, warning of potential demands for an investigation if support is not provided.

In a collective letter to the Home Office, the NTIA and Lord urgently requested the decision to be reversed and the reinstatement of the previously established drug testing arrangement. This action comes in response to widespread appeals from artists, festival organizers, and over 30 cross-party MPs, all urging the government to reconsider its position.

Commenting on the governments decision, Lord said:

“The Home Office must halt this reckless disregard for the safety of festival-goers and reinstate the existing Memorandum of Understanding without delay. The industry tirelessly strives to ensure public safety. If the Home Office continues to withhold support for this crucial work, we will have no choice but to demand a comprehensive investigation and consultation.”

(Image credit: Parklife Festival / Facebook.com)

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