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Boomtown Raises the MAST

The 60,000 capacity Boomtown Fair Festival has announced that it will offer Multi Agency Safety Testing (MAST) on-site drug testing at this year’s sold-out event.

The service, which allows audiences to have a small quantity of drugs tested to find out the contents will be provided by The Loop which launched a similar programme at last year’s Secret Garden Party and Kendal Calling festivals.

Those two events yielded some eye opening results, with a total of 300 individual tests undertaken and brief interventions delivered to over 1,000 users. Almost one in five of individuals tested asked The Loop to dispose of their drugs on learning of the contents, which included the likes of boric acid and malaria pills sold on site as cocaine, and concrete sold on site as ecstasy pills. The whole concept is about pragmatic harm reduction, identifying high risk substances and delivering targeted advice to those not otherwise engaged with medical or drugs services.

The Loop’s founder Fiona Measham said: “We are delighted to be able to work in partnership with Boomtown this year to help reduce drug-related harm on site. We will be providing our free, anonymous, drug safety testing – MAST – for the first time at Boomtown this year and hope that this will help inform all services on site, as well as festival-goers, who may encounter substances of concern”.

The festival has also committed to tighter security around the site in order to try to prevent drugs reaching the event in the first instance, in addition to a section of its website dedicated to raising awareness of current dangerous drug trends at festivals and further educational information.

The Loop expects the service to be in operation at around ten festivals this summer including some major events such as Reading and Leeds, operated by Festival Republic– though a recent report on Event Industry News suggests that some hurdles remain.

Boomtown takes place from 10th-13th August near Winchester.

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