T in the Park in crackdown on use of ‘legal highs’

SNIFFER dogs and amnesty bins will be used to target the use of “legal highs” at Scotland’s biggest music festival.

Sniffer dogs at the T in the Park music festival next weekend will target substances known as legal highs. Picture: Jane Barlow
Sniffer dogs at the T in the Park music festival next weekend will target substances known as legal highs. Picture: Jane Barlow

Organisers of T in the Park, which takes place this weekend, are joining a national crackdown on new psychoactive substances (NPS).

It follows a number of high-profile deaths linked to substances which are typically sold, officially, as plant food or bath salts.

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As well as targeting illegal drugs, measures have been put in place to educate young people and confiscate legal highs at the festival.

Last month the Scottish Government announced plans for an expert group to look at powers to restrict the sale of legal highs.

Ministers previously identified festival season as an opportunity to highlight the dangers of taking the substances.

Posters will be displayed throughout the T in the Park site, warning festival-goers about the dangers of legal highs.

A T in the Park spokeswoman said: “Drugs are no more acceptable at T in the Park than they are anywhere else and the same risks and penalties apply.

“The safety of T in the Park fans is our priority and we work closely with the police, the medical services, our event security and all other relevant agencies year on year to create an environment where festival-goers can enjoy a brilliant weekend in a safe and responsible setting.

“With regards to so called legal highs, these substances are not permitted at T in the Park.

“Anyone found with these substances will have them confiscated and they risk being refused entry or ejected from the site.”

MSPs pledged to get tough on legal highs earlier this year after figures showed a large rise in associated hospital admissions.

Between 2009 and 2012, legal highs were implicated in 73 deaths in Scotland. In 14 of the cases, it was the only substance taken prior to death.

In April, Helen Henderson, 19, from Renfrew, became the latest person to die after taking the stimulant mephedrone, or “MCAT”.

Previously one of the growing number of legal highs, MCAT was made a class-B drug in 2010 after being linked to a number of deaths.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Drug use is falling across Scotland, particularly among our young people, but there’s increasing concern around the use of so called legal highs.

“As we come into the festival season, it is important to stress that ‘legal’ does not equal safe .

“The UK Government is responsible for the control of drugs but we are doing what we can to address demand, raising awareness of the dangers through a new Know the Score marketing and Facebook campaign and working with police to promote enforcement.

“We recently hosted our second summit and have set up an expert group to review the powers which are currently available in Scotland to tackle the sale 
and supply of new psychoactive substances.”