Rock fans at festival to be given drug-drive warning

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The Independent Online
The first drugs and driving campaign in England and Wales is being launched today, aimed at audiences heading for the Reading Festival this week.

The first drugs and driving campaign in England and Wales is being launched today, aimed at audiences heading for the Reading Festival this week.

The campaign begins after police cautioned more than 300 people for drug offences at the V2001 festival in Staffordshire, which ended yesterday. It is intended to convince crowds at Reading that driving after using drugs is as dangerous and as unacceptable as drink-driving.

Led by the Wokingham Community Safety Partnership, the campaign is backed by the festival promoters – the Mean Fiddler Organisation, Thames Valley Police and Wokingham District Council.

Leaflets warning of the dangers will be handed out to people arriving at the festival.

Diana Carpenter, a councillor on the authority whose daughter was involved in an accident in which the driver had taken drugs, said awareness of the risks had to be increased. She was supported by Kevin Delaney, the RAC Foundation's traffic and safety manager, who said: "Continued safety campaigns on drink-driving have changed attitudes, but it would appear that many young people think there are no dangers involved in taking illicit drugs and then getting behind the wheel.

"Some young people attending festivals this weekend are likely to be experimenting with recreational drugs and all too many will then decide to drive home. Failing to act on drug-driving will merely make it harder to change attitudes in later life."

The campaign is based on an initiative run in Scotland, in which the Scottish Executive has circulated leaflets and put up posters in nightclubs.

Police made random drug searches at Weston Park, Staffordshire, one of two sites for the V2001 festival. A spokeswoman for Staffordshire Police said that 317 people were cautioned for possession of drugs. Cannabis worth £11,000 was seized, as well as smaller quantities of ecstasy, amphetamines, LSD and cocaine.

At the other V2001 site, near Chelmsford, Essex, police said there were only three arrests, one for drunk and disorderly behaviour and two for possession of drugs. About 300 people needed medical treatment over the weekend, mostly for dehydration or fatigue.

Another man was charged with breach of the peace after jumping on to the stage where Kylie Minogue was performing in an indoor concert. He was intercepted by security staff and handed over to police.

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