“Harm reduction and customer welfare are our priorities.”

Bestival, which last year moved to Dorset from the Isle of Wight, is to provide on-site drug testing facilities for the first time this year.

“In the interests of public safety, Bestival has always strongly advised festival-goers to avoid taking any illegal substances,” a spokesperson for the popular UK festival told The Independent.

“However, harm reduction and customer welfare are our priorities, so we are working with agencies to explore all public health options to ensure audience choice and safety,” they continue.

Drug-related deaths in the UK reached their highest level in a decade in 2016, with at least 3,744 deaths recorded in England and Wales. Last year, 25-year-old Louella Michie was found dead at Bestival following drug-related complications.

The festival’s decision to allow its 50,000 attendees to test their drugs without fear of being arrested was promoted by calls from drug safety experts and campaigners, who have urged facilities to be provided at all UK festivals following the death of two partygoers at Portsmouth’s Mutiny Festival in May.

Bestival, which this year takes place between August 2 and 5 at Lulworth Estate, follows in the footsteps of other UK festivals including Boomtown, Secret Garden Party and Love Saves The Day who have introduced drug testing facilities on-site. However, many major UK festivals have yet to come on board.

Read next: How on-site drug testing at festivals can help save lives



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