Glastonbury Festival 'legal high' test lab set up

Mephedrone Mephedrone was banned in April but similar "highs" are being sold legally

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Police at Glastonbury have set up an off-site lab to test "legal highs" seized at the festival.

It comes after a rise in unidentified drugs found at large music events across the UK.

The Forensic Early Warning System allows government scientists to analyse and detect traces of potentially harmful and illegal substances.

Police spokesman Paul Bunt said: "Because there are so many new drugs, we know very little about them."

Police remove drugs seized at Glastonbury to a laboratory located several miles off site where they are tested, identified and catalogued.

Mr Bunt said some of the seized substances were "research drugs from other industries".

"If we can't identify them here on our machinery, the experts here will see if they recognize them," he added.

He said it was "essential" festival organizers co-operate with the project, adding there were a number of legal high shops on the Glastonbury site.

BBC Glastonbury Festival logo

He said shop owners had worked with police to narrow down the range of merchandise they sold to make sure their products did not contain illegal or harmful substances.

It was a "condition of their entry", he added.

Crime prevention minister Baroness Browning said the lab would "help protect young people from the real dangers posed by these drugs".

"We must send a clear message to anyone who takes so-called legal highs: You are playing Russian roulette with your health," she added.

But one festival-goer, who did not want to be named, said: "It doesn't make sense that things like cocaine and weed are illegal but you can buy stuff over the internet totally legally that somebody has made in a lab and you don't know what it is."

Start Quote

The drug culture these days has changed beyond belief. What a cheek to even suggest there's a problem”

End Quote Michael Eavis

The government has introduced new proposals for temporary 12-month bans on new psychoactive drugs.

It comes after several deaths were linked with legal highs.

Meanwhile, festival organisers turned down a police request to access the festival toilets to allow scientists to test sewage for traces of illegal drugs.

Detecting tiny traces of drugs in the sewage would allow police to track the type of substance use across the site.

But because the event takes place on private land, any research would have to be permitted by the owners.

In a statement, organiser Michael Eavis said: "The drug culture these days has changed beyond belief.

"What a cheek to even suggest there's a problem."

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