Glastonbury Festival could be forced to change its drug testing policy as part of a future review of its licence.

Mendip District Council issues the licence for the world-famous Worthy Farm event each year. This includes an agreed plan which lays out how visitors will be kept safe.

The festival currently carries out ‘back-of-house’ drug testing, where a private company tests substances after they are surrendered in amnesty bins or confiscated on-site.

But a senior figure in Avon and Somerset Constabulary has called for a change in approach.

Pete Collins, the police’s drug expert lead, addressed the issue when the council’s licensing board met in Shepton Mallet on Wednesday evening (October 26).

He said: "We work on-site, but we don’t get involved in the drugs seizures side of things too much.

"The festival uses the services of a licensed private company to carry out what they call back-of-house testing there.

"Believe it or not, but the seizure of drugs is not something that’s disclosed to us – the data is owned by the Glastonbury Festival and they don’t disclose that to us."

Somerset County Gazette: Pete Collins, drug expert lead at Avon and Somerset Constabulary.Pete Collins, drug expert lead at Avon and Somerset Constabulary. (Image: Mendip District Council)

Under the current system, police will arrest people within the Glastonbury Festival site for supplying or attempting to supply drugs. These figures are recorded within the official police statistics.

However, information about any drugs recovered either through amnesty bins or interventions by the festival’s own security seizures will not form part of any official police investigation.

Front of house testing the way forward?

Councillor Francis Hayden said he favoured front-of-house testing at festivals, where people were allowed to get their drugs tested before entering to ensure they were safe.

Andy Battle, the Glastonbury Festival’s head of security, told the board in April that he did not believe such an approach would be effective.

Mr Hayden asked Mr Collins: "Do you think there’s a way in which we as licensers and you and the festival organisers could begin to have a conversion about how to implement front-of-house testing at the festival?"

Mr Collins responded: "The Home Office needs to be on board with that. I can’t speak with any authority, but I don’t believe it’s something that they’re keen on.

"You as the licensing authority can make it a condition of the festival’s licence, but unless they can get an organisation which is licensed by the Home Office to do that, that will be counter-productive.

"My personal opinion is we should have front-of-house testing at festivals – I fully support that."

The board agreed to discuss the prospect of amending the Glastonbury Festival’s licence at its next meeting, which is scheduled to take place on February 1, 2023.