Festival Republic boss yet to secure government approval for on-site drug-testing at Reading & Leeds

Melvin Benn is seeking to procure a special license from the Home Office prior to August's double-header

Festival Republic boss Melvin Benn has revealed that he’s still waiting on special government approval before being able to implement on-site drug-testing at this year’s Reading & Leeds Festivals.

Run by The Loop, the scheme allows festivalgoers to bring a sample of their drugs to an on-site base in order to have them forensically tested. Festivalgoers are then told what exactly is in their drugs, before they are then destroyed.

The scheme was trialled at Secret Garden Party last year, and is set to be in place at this year’s Boomtown Fair.

However, Benn is still waiting on a special license to be granted by The Home Office in order for the same scheme to be implemented at Reading & Leeds in August.

“The drugs testing is complicated because of the law [but] it’s not complicated because of a desire to do it,” Benn told BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat. “This is such a detail – but it’s an important detail.

“The people that are doing the drugs testing have to have a license from the Home Office to be in possession of controlled drugs, otherwise they are in possession of illegal drugs. We haven’t got that permission yet. When we get that permission, we can announce that it’ll happen at Reading and Leeds, but until I get that permission I can’t say it will.”

Benn also said that critics of the scheme needed to “open their eyes – like it or not, drugs are part of society.”

“Anecdotally the evidence coming out of Holland is that, in the places that have this testing there hasn’t been a death associated with MDMA since the testing came in. That to me is sufficient reason to go forward,” Benn said. “Do I want people taking illegal drugs? Of course I don’t. Am I condoning it? No of course I’m not. But testing is important.”

Speaking about the likelihood of drug-testing being available at Reading & Leeds this year, Benn was hopeful of being granted a special license by The Home Office before next month’s festivals take place.

“I think it will happen. There’s a will for it to happen from West Yorkshire Police and Leeds City Council. Clearly we can’t do it until we abide by the law.”

Meanwhile, Reading & Leeds headliners Kasabian told NME last month that they’ll deliver a “ferocious” set come their high-profile shows in August.