VISITORS to this year’s Glastonbury Festival will not be tested for drugs when they enter the site – despite pleas from councillors, writes Daniel Mumby.

The organisers of the event from June 22 to 26 currently operate a policy of testing drugs when they are found, surrendered or seized on site.

The festival’s head of security Andy Battle told Mendip District Council, which issues the festival’s licence, that implementing 'front-of-house' testing where people offer drugs to be tested as they go in would not be an effective deterrent to dealers.

He said he was “really confident” about the support facilities in place to assist people found to have taken drugs during the festival.

He said: “We have a back-of-house testing facility, so we are able to test drugs on site.

"The drugs that are seized, surrendered or found abandoned, we can test.

“We use that intelligence to inform communications with the public via social media and to notify the medical team, but actually that’s of very little use to them because they have the capability to deal with all drugs.

“We have welfare capabilities that have the ability to handle 50-plus people. We employ consultant psychologists, nurses and drug counsellors. Front-of-house testing is only effective when people present themselves to it.”

Mr Battle added that front-of-house testing would not stop what he claimed was the main cause of drug deaths at festivals – namely individuals taking more than one drug at the same time, often with alcohol.

He said: “Drugs death are tragedies. Evidence suggests that, in the main, it’s more than one drug that’s involved and invariably alcohol is involved as well.

“There is no testing available which will tell you what the safe level of multi-drugs and alcohol are. It’s a false premise that front-of-house testing would help us to provide the right knowledge.

“I’ve spent my life chasing drug dealers. Nothing prevents them. They are a parasite, and they will find every opportunity to peddle drugs on everybody.

“They’ll peddle brick dust if they can. They’ll simply peddle anything to make money, and nothing will prevent it. No amount of front-of-house testing.”

Several councillors expressed their dismay at the policy, including one who said they would “string up” and “remove certain body parts” from anyone found guilty of drug dealing.