Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Boomtown Fair: Front of house drug tests delay 'ludicrous'

Ellie Rowe
Image caption Ellie Rowe died at Boomtown Fair in 2013

A mum whose teenage daughter died at a festival has called on the government to make "life-saving" drugs tests easier to implement.

Earlier this week, Boomtown Fair announced it would not provide front of house safety testing at its 2019 event.

The Loop, which previously ran the service, said "complex negotiations" meant it could not do so this year.

Wendy Teasdill, whose daughter Ellie Rowe died after taking ketamine, said testing may have saved her life.

The Loop provided testing facilities for the public to get drugs tested anonymously at seven UK festivals last year.

'Ran out of time'

In previous years, it was able to carry out its tests through a series of agreements with local police forces and councils.

This year, director Fiona Measham said, it came up against "a complex series of negotiations and just ran out of time".

"Each festival has different local dynamics - it's very complex," said Prof Measham, a criminologist at Durham University,

"There's not one particular reason or one particular organisation to point the finger at."

Image copyright Boomtown/Scott Salt
Image caption This year's Boomtown Fair takes place until Sunday and its headline acts include Ms Lauren Hill, Prophets of Rage and The Streets

Miss Rowe's mother Wendy Teasdill, from Glastonbury, said: "It's ludicrous that [The Loop] are having to fight to be there.

"They should be being put there by the government. Drug-taking is sadly inevitable but we have to deal with the reality and not the ideal.

"Had The Loop been at Boomtown when my daughter was there I'm sure she would have been unable to resist the temptation to get her ketamine tested.

"She would have been cautioned about the quantities, about the dangers of taking it with alcohol, and she might just still be alive."

Image caption Dorset's Bestival festival was among seven events The Loop provided "front of house" testing to last year

Speaking in Parliament last year, Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire said there was a lack of guidance from the government, leaving festival organisers and local authorities to navigate "grey areas".

In a statement on its website, Boomtown said back of house drug testing would be provided this year by Tictac "to identify harmful substances circulating at the festival".

The Home Office spokesman said: "Anyone interested in lawfully undertaking activities which include the possession, supply or production of controlled drugs needs to apply for a licence.

"They would then be subject to the usual considerations, visits and fees."

The Loop has not been granted a licence, he added.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites