Mass drug testing proposed.

Following the revelation from CakeMedia that the mass drug testing by laptop was in fact not going to be used at the V2003 V Festival, UKCIA wrote a letter to the Sunday Times, asking them to investigate this decision and try and answer some of the questions that at that point had not been answered.

Sir

Last month you published an article reporting that attendees of the V2003 Staffordshire festival will be tested for drugs en masse by Staffordshire Police using a new laptop-based technology ("Festival fans face laptop drug test, 1st June 2003). A drug law reform group I work with, UKCIA (http://www.ukcia.org) shared the concerns of Liberty, the Essex Police Force, and others that this could constitute a breach of human rights and was an unproven, expensive, degrading and ineffective way to reduce the potential harm caused by drug usage, which did not fit in with the Government's own drug strategy.

However, recently CakeMedia, the PR company for V Festival, have given us a statement that Staffordshire Police now have no intentions of conducting such testing. No reason has been given as yet for this decision and my correspondence so far with Staffordshire Police has elicited no details of the testing mechanism itself, any proof it works, nor answered my concerns about the policy with which it was intended to be used. Perhaps your reporters could follow up this change of story and use your publication's considerable influence in order establish the above facts, and help stop this worrying development in drug testing strategies continue in Stafford, or indeed the rest of this country.

We enclosed a copy of our original letter for their reference and to highlight our concerns.

Since then, a letter from the Staffordshire police has claimed that "There is not, and never has been any intention to mass screen people attending the V2003 festival". This seems at odds with the original Sunday Times article, which clearly stated: "Police plan to use the machine for the first time when the three bands play at the V2003 festival at Weston Park, Staffordshire, in August." Perhaps, in addition to helping us get the information about this testing system and policy we want, any response to this letter will clear up whether the original article was wrong, or the police are covering up their original plans.

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