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CMU@TGE Top Ten Questions: What drugs policies and initiatives can actually save lives?

By | Published on Tuesday 16 May 2017

CMU@TGE Top Ten Questions: What drugs policies and initiatives can actually save lives?

In the run up to this year’s CMU Insights @ The Great Escape conference, we are going through the top ten questions we will be answering during this year’s programme. Today: What drugs policies and initiatives can actually save lives?

For a time last year the future of London clubbing institution Fabric looked rather bleak after Islington Council revoked the venue’s licence following two drugs-related deaths. This despite Fabric being widely recognised, including by the police, as a best practice venue when it comes to drugs policies and safety initiatives.

There was a happy ending when Fabric eventually secured a new licence and was able to re-open for business. But the whole debacle put the spotlight on a number of issues.

First, the way local authorities and police forces work with or against club venues, and how much that varies around the country. Secondly, differing perceptions around the cultural value of the UK’s clubbing scene and dance music in general. And thirdly, the way clumsy drug laws that ignore reality actually put young people in danger, by hindering practical educational initiatives and discouraging venues and promoters from working more closely with the authorities.

Shutting down clubs and festivals won’t stop people taking drugs. And shutting down the good clubs and festivals will, if anything, simply put those people at a greater risk of harm. There are plenty of council officials and police chiefs around the country who know that, and who therefore support and facilitate better ways to ensure the safety of clubbers and festival-goers.

To ensure we don’t see more best-practice venues in risk of being shut down, now seems like the perfect time for the clubbing community – and the wider music industry – to spotlight and celebrate those drugs initiatives that actually save lives, and to promote those schemes both to venues and promoters, but also to local authorities and police forces, and to law makers who ultimately provide the legislation and guidelines local agencies follow.

This is what we’ll be doing at the start of the Drugs Conference this week at The Great Escape. Fabric’s Andy Blackett and The Warehouse Project’s Sacha Lord will discuss some of the best initiatives, and how we might go about promoting them, and making them standard around the country. While campaigner Nathalie Wainwright will explain why she spoke out in support of Fabric last year, and why education and harm reduction programmes should be at the top of everyone’s agenda.

With that in mind, we’ll also be joined by Vice’s Jamie Clifton and Max Daly to discuss the challenge of how you write about and report on drugs in a credible and authentic way that can still deliver the safety message.