At the heart of British drug policy lies a prohibitionist stance that prioritises the relationship between drugs and crime, resulting in both increased medicalisation based on outdated notions of addiction and compulsion, and increased criminalisation dominated by ‘war on drugs’ and ‘law and order’ discourses. This chapter looks at a new wave of proactive prohibition of pharmacological intoxication, bolstering an enduring ‘official’ ambivalence to leisure, pleasure and intoxication. It considers four aspects of this new wave of criminalisation: first, the extension of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act to criminalise emergent drugs used for recreational purposes; second, changes to the burden of proof regarding drug supply offences; third, the increased regulation of young-adult drunkenness and drink-related disorder; and, fourth, the continued rejection by the British government of repeated calls to overhaul the drug classification system. The chapter argues that young people’s involvement in vibrant and diverse local leisure ‘scenes’ provides the target for a new wave of stigmatisation and criminalisation of contemporary cultures of intoxication, at odds with official policy supporting the expansion of the night-time economy.
Crime and safety at UK music festivals is a subject of growing concern for festival management, police and festival-goers, bolstered by increasing media coverage of incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault. To date, however, there has been limited evidence regarding festival-goers’ experiences and perspectives concerning safety, particularly in relation to gender-based violence at music festivals. Using data from a mixed methods pilot study, this article presents the findings of a self-selecting survey of 450 festival-goers which asked respondents about their perceptions of safety and experiences of different crime and harms including gender-based violence at UK music festivals. The findings reveal that most respondents report feeling safe at festivals, but various personal, social and environmental factors may increase or reduce these feelings of safety, and these are gendered. Similarly, although experiences of acquisitive crime, hate crime and stalking were low and broadly similar for women and men, a third of women experienced sexual harassment and 8% experienced sexual assault – significantly higher than the reported levels among male respondents. We argue that festivals must work proactively with key stakeholders and agencies, as well as artists and patrons, to develop clear policies and initiatives to prevent sexual violence.