Drug busts plummet at rock festivals
Drug busts at UK rock festivals are plummeting – while arrests for substance offences are increasing at other weekender events.
Figures revealed by police authorities show £3.95 worth of illegal drugs were discovered for every person attending the last Glastonbury festival – a total of £44,869 among its 177,000 attendees.
Meanwhile, £1062 worth of drugs were confiscated at Download, adding up to just 1.5p for each of the 70,000 people there. The figure at the combined Reading and Leeds Festival was slightly lower: 1p per punter, from a total of £1601 found among a crowd of 162,000.
But the figure at Sonisphere was only £413, which is just over 0.5p split among its 60,000 fans.
The Guardian says: “On the Isle of Wight it’s been largely cocaine and ecstasy, at Glastonbury, ketamine – while the drug of choice for heavy metal fans would seem to be Jack Daniels and other booze.”
The figures suggest that drug users are focusing on cheaper substances in the face of austere times and rising ticket prices, with the haul of horse tranquilliser ketamine on the increase while cocaine recovery is dropping.
The majority of the small amounts found at Download and Sonisphere was cannabis and the rest was cocaine. No ecstasy or amphetamines were discovered.
But some say the level of drug use is the same as it’s always been, and the figures have changed because policing methods have been modified.
Rupert George of drugs charity Release tells the Guardian: “Festivals have tended to become more expensive, corporate and mainstream, with older, more middle-class crowds that attract far less intensive policing.”
National Drug Prevention Alliance spokesman David Raynes adds: “I’m not sure that policing makes the effort it once did to detect drug dealers at festivals. I have never heard it spoken of as a priority. They will of course expect to come across drugs.”
The biggest haul in recent history was over £120,000 of drugs recovered at the Isle of Wight’s Bestival festival in 2009.
UK festival drugs figures 2011 (Source: Request Initative)
Glastonbury: Attendance 177,000; value £44,869; value per person £3.95
Download: Attendance 70,000; value £1062; value per person £0.015
Reading / Leeds: Attendance 162,000; value £1601; value per person £0.01
Sonisphere: Attendance 60,000; value £413; value per person £0.006