Glastonbury is to be targetted by police this year in their biggest-ever crackdown on hard drugs at an outdoor festival.
The Avon And Somerset Constabulary will employ a revolutionary onsite drugs-testing machine, which can instantly identify a drug, in an effort to turn around prosecutions within 24 hours.
Previously, suspect substances had to be sent from the festival site to specialist laboratories for analysis, a process which took as long as four days. But, as police cannot legally detain suspects for a drugs-related offence offence for that length of time, offenders often escaped prosecution.
This year, anyone found in possession of Class A drugs will be immediately excluded from the festival and could face jail. Detective Chief Inspector Graham Cawley told NME: “The drugs testing machine is basically a mobile forensic unit. Anyone in possession can be charged and in court the next morning.”
Last year just 77 people were arrested for drug offences over the three-day event although there were 143 drug seizures. This year, DCI Cawley says he hopes to more than double those arrest figures.
He continued: “There will always be drugs within Glastonbury Festival. This year, our efforts will be concentrated on the people selling Class A drugs. We won’t be jumping on any innocent member of the public or arresting them for having small bits of cannabis.”
More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the festival which takes place on June 26, 27 & 28. Policing and security will cost more than ‘700,000. Avon And Somerset Constabulary did not reveal how many police they would be deploying on site, other than to say it was their biggest job of the year.
Meanwhile, work is continuing at the festival site, Worthy Farm, with the Main Stage already erected and security fences almost finished. A festival spokesman also revealed that the bridges over the various watercourses onsite were being made safer and 17 septic tanks were being built to improve toilet facilities.