Proposals to reduce drug-related harms in the night time economy

A joint report looking at reducing drug-related harms in the night time economy in the UK has been published.

‘Night Lives’ by The Loop, Volteface, Durham University and The All Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform highlights the need for measures to address the increasing harms from club drug use, and advocates for the adoption of a set of practical initiatives across towns and cities.

These include:

  • Drug safety testing services available to the general public in night life districts;
  • An independent information campaign on reducing drug-related harm;
  • Training for night life staff in how to respond effectively to drug use in the Night Time Economy;
  • The adoption of the UK festival drug policy of ‘3Ps: Prevent, Pursue, Protect’ in licensed venues.

Drug-related deaths due to ecstasy and cocaine are at their highest since records began and, despite drug usage rates remaining broadly consistent, hospital admissions due to these drugs have risen dramatically in recent years.

The report presents solutions to the perceived barriers to implementation of the initiatives it proposes, including addressing licensing concerns through communicating a greater understanding of the positive wider impact of these initiatives on security staff, police and health services, and introducing initiatives using a partnership approach, as advocated in the Night Time Economy Strategies of many towns and cities.

The Loop is in advanced discussions with authorities in several UK locations to deliver drug safety testing to town and city centres in the near future and will be offering forensic testing by chemists and brief interventions by healthcare professionals at an increased number of UK festivals this summer.

To help fund the cost of this growing demand for their services, and maintain it being free to users, they have launched a crowd funding campaign, allowing supporters to make a practical contribution towards their work. The money raised will be used to help support five regional testing hubs.

Report co-author Professor Fiona Measham, Director of The Loop and Professor of Criminology at Durham University said:

“UK night life makes a vital contribution to our economic and cultural life yet we have reached an impasse. Clubs risk closure if there is a drug-related death but they also risk closure if they attempt to introduce harm reduction measures. By contrast, UK festivals have been introducing evidence-based and effective measures to address the growing drug-related problems faced in the UK, including hospitalisations, deaths and contaminated supply chains.

“Drawing on festival drug policy and practice, this report makes key recommendations to bolster our night time economy and to protect the customers and venues within them.”

Click here to view the report.