UK pill tester group The Loop eying Australian festivals, preparing to roll out “when the political climate changes”
The non-profit organisation does tests at festivals and nightclubs in the UK; this past summer its volunteers worked at 12 festivals.
It was founded on 2013 by Prof Fiona Measham, a professor of criminology at the University of Durham; and Wilf Gregory, a DJ and festival organiser.
Measham is in Australia speaking to stakeholders in all states and territories.
She says there’s greater resistance to the idea here than there was three years ago in the UK but adds that talks have been “constructive”.
The group is setting up a local version called The Loop Safety Testing and training 150 chemistry and medical volunteers in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
“We’ve got chemists, we’ve got health care professionals, and the idea is that we have a qualified experienced, trained team who are then ready to roll when the political climate changes, which I’m fairly sure is going to happen fairly soon,” she told triple j’s current affairs show Hack.
Measham adds that public opinion has changed in the last three years – and suggests that a spate of festivals trials could begin as early as this summer.
In the UK, the Loop only works with strong police support: “we couldn’t and wouldn’t operate without that,” Measham emphasises.
A call for pill testing to be introduced at all festivals in the UK began in May after two people fatally overdosed at the Mutiny festival in Hampshire, and 13 were hospitalised.
At Love Saves the Day in Bristol it found one in eight tablets sold as MDMA actually containing over 100mg of pentylone, a strong dose of a psychoactive substance.