Drug safety-testing at MADE Festival: The Round-Up
Revellers at MADE Festival in Perry Park, were this year able to
anonymously submit substances for analysis. Experts then tested the
drugs, provided results and offered advice to prevent
MADE retained its strong stance against the use of illegal drugs
and was clear festival-goers should not try to bring substances to
However in response to recommendations from the Police and Crime
Commissioner, they decided to offer the service for the first
The Loop tested 54 samples of concern at MADE and delivered harm
reduction counselling sessions to 70 members of the public:
- The average age of those using the service was 21.
- Over half the samples tested were MDMA.
- Of those who used the service, over 1 in 5 stated that they
would now take a lower dose than they had previously been
- 1 in 7 people who used the service chose to hand over the rest
of their sample for disposal after hearing what it was.
- The strongest ecstasy pill tested was a 'Yellow Visa', which
contained 240mg MDMA two to three times an average adult dose.
Crucially, The Loop in conjunction with West Midlands
Police issued a drug alert which warned people about a particularly
dangerous substance in circulation at the event.
Commenting on the successes of the testing service, West
Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson said: "The
results demonstrate the benefits of safety testing in reducing harm
and protecting lives.
"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.
"By working together, and trying new things based on evidence we
can make a real difference and protect our young people."
Pete Jordan, Director of MADE Festival said: "We have been
nothing other than impressed with the professionalism of The Loop
team and they were a welcome addition to MADE Festival's
comprehensive harm reduction policy.
"The initial results confirm that a service like this is
invaluable resource for young people, and we've seen a reduction of
drug use on site because of the information and advise the service
Dr Henry Fisher, Senior Chemist at the Loop said: "It was great
to be able to prove our MAST service for the first time ever in the
West Midlands at MADE festival.
"We had a really positive day, festival staff, police and the
festival goers themselves were all really supportive of our
service, and it was great to see our messages about how to reduce
drug-related harms getting through to the public.
"What was really reassuring is that more people seem to have
heard of our service and understand why we provide the information,
although with such a young crowd, there is still a lot of
misinformation around, so it was imported we could be there to help
"We can't wait to come back next year if we're invited."
West Midlands Police Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Boycott
said: "At a fundamental level the police enforce the law, but we
also have a duty to protect the public and prevent them from
"Consuming controlled drugs is inherently dangerous and the
tragic consequences of this have been illustrated with drug-related
deaths at similar events in recent years.
"Although we can never condone the use of illegal drugs, we
recognize that some people will continue to take them and are
looking for ways to adapt our approach in the interests of public
"This was the first time we were involved in trialling a harm
reduction approach to drugs in the West Midlands. We found the
average age of festival goers using The Loop service at MADE was
just 21. A tangible benefit of testing is that it offers the chance
to directly engage with these young individuals, talk to them about
the impact of drugs and hopefully initiate a change in
"The force hopes to build on this in the future, and will
consider other new innovative measures to help to keep
festival-goers safe from harm. However, we remain completely
committed to tackling the illegal distribution of drugs on our
streets, organised criminality and associated crimes that bring
harm to our communities."