Music Festival Event Managers, are we turning a blind eye to this growing epidemic?

Since 2015, there has been a 108% increase in reports of drink spiking to UK police forces.

How aware of the growing phenomenon surrounding drinks being spiked with drugs at festivals are you?

Your Duty of Care

It is your moral and legal duty to ensure events are made safe as possible to all those present. As an organiser of events it is your responsibility to ensure that safety is maintained. It is essential to have appropriate management systems in place to assure health and safety risks are controlled. By not being aware of the dangers of drink spiking at music festivals, are you putting your attendees in danger?

Source: (Anh, 2018)

It Is not all doom and gloom!

Here are 3 ways you can help prevent drink spiking at your events…

How can we help ourselves?

Detection Kits: Drink Detective kits have now become wildly available so that if your attendees feel at risk and believe they have had their drinks spiked, they are able to test their drink at the time. The Undercover Colours is real time test, which works within 30 seconds so that guests are able test for Xanax, Valium and Flunitrazepam which are the most common drugs used to spike drinks.  These tests however do come at a cost. It is the events managers decision to decide, how to integrate the cost into the music festival. One way of doing is selling them along side the drinks cost, or alternative a convert method is to include the kits in with the ticket price, so that they can be given out freely at the event. For more information on Detective Kits: Click Here.

KnoNap: The KnoNap is a more discreet testing method which is being developed. The napkin will change colour if drugs are found present in a drink. This is a subtle way for attendees to check their drinks if they are being watched by the perpetrator. By supplying the KnoNap as an alternative to the cocktail napkin you are automatically making your attendees feel safer at your festival. Use this link to find out more.


Source: (Discenza, 2017)


In the hands of the festival event planners!

Training: As a festival manager you need to ensure that your staff receive specific training in order to help reduce risk. With your staff being more vigilant and aware of the signs (please see attached), actions can be taken earlier to reduce the harm to the individual. You have both a moral and legal duty of care for all attendees to ensure appropriate measures are in place to protect all guest’s safety. It is essential to have appropriate management systems in place to assure health and safety risks are controlled.

Signs that an individual has been spiked:

*Feeling drunk

*Mental confusion

*Nausea and vomiting


*Loss of Inhibitions


*Loss of consciousness

*Memory loss

Source: (Chinchure, 2017)

Why is this important?

Personal Experience:

I experienced being spiked at a music festival in Thailand in the summer of 2018. This was a scary experience for me, especially since I was in a foreign country. I was lucky that I had my friend with me, who took me away from the crowds and was able to look after me to ensure I was safe. I was taken to the toilets and by this point I started to hyperventilate and had no control of my own body. I am lucky that I had my friend with me, who realised something was not right and that my demeanour had changed. If it was not for her, the situation may have escalated and turned into something fatal. Although, she was able to help me my friend was not fully prepared of the correct procedures to take when you find someone in this situation.

Source: (Howe, 2018)

In cases like this I feel that it is important for people to be educated and aware of circumstances that could occur unexpectedly. Having sufficient training for all staff at an event could help with noticing signs of unusual behaviour caused from spiked drinks, rather than those have consumed a high volume of alcohol. It would be beneficial for staff to learn how to prevent this situation from happening and the actions that follow.

I also believe it is important to put testing methods into practice such as the Detective Kits and KnoNap. If this would have been available at the festival I attended, I could have self-tested my drink when one was given to me or when I put it down. This will be beneficial for both the safety of attendees and the event’s reputation, as having these prevention methods and guidelines in place, could reassure those in the future attending your event.

What should you do if you believe someone has been spiked?

Being aware of the steps to take when you notice an attendee in danger is just as important as preventing the incident in the first place.  Please see the below steps which will help educate you in the correct procedure, which should be taken if you expect a guests has had there drink spiked at your festival.

Step 1– Recognize the symptoms

Step 2– Get to a safe place

Step 3– Get trusted help

Step 4- Find the public services (ambulance, emergency room or police)

Step 5– Have trusted company at all times


Have we done enough?

The knowledge and awareness of drink spiking at festivals have increased over recent years, but so has the number of reported cases. By putting these solutions into action are we creating a safer environment for festival attendees?

Do you believe that the financial cost should be the organisations or the attendees?

Is staff training alongside the training methods beneficial?

Do you think your staff would be able to distinguish an attendee who has had there drink spiked?

In you opinion what other methods could help prevent drinks being spiked at music festival?


Harriet Simpson says:

In my opinion the best way to incorporate the cost of testing kits would be to include it in the initial ticket price. I believe this because, people who want to attend that festival will pay the price of the ticket regardless. Therefore it is given out to the customers without them having an option to say no. I think this is better than giving them a choice, as people think It will never happen to them and as a result think they don’t need to spend the money.

I also think that the initial checking of drugs on a person needs to be cracked down on, in order to prevent it from happening in the first place. Prevention is key!

eventssafety says:

Good Afternoon Harriet,

Thank you for your comment.
You make a valid point with regards to how festivals should financially support the use of drink test kits. You have stated that you believe drug checks are also key. Do you think this could put off attendees attending festivals, if the arrival checks are more in-depth and lengthy process.

Kate Briggs-Price says:

Does these testing methods only test for date rape drugs? Or all drugs?

eventssafety says:

Good Afternoon Kate,

At the moment these kits only test for common date rape drugs. Do you believe the tests should be more diverse? says:

I think staff arwarness is key to the safety of festival attendees. Like you said, there’s no realistic way of preventing spiking happen, but being aware of how to deal with it afterwards is really important. I think more social media awareness would also be beneficial so the victim is able to receive initial help and support if there aren’t any staff around.

eventssafety says:

Good Afternoon Izzy,

Thank you for your feedback.

With regards to social media, do you believe it is the responsibility of the festival itself or the local emergency services to provide this support?

Izzy says:

I think it’s everyones responsibility. However If more awareness is spread by victims themselves, the festival team and other organisations people are then aware of the signs/symptoms and what they can do to get help. Like Harriet said, people don’t ever think it’s going to happen to them until it does.

Charlie says:

Drinks needs to be given out in plastic bottles and not plastic cups. You can carry a bottle with your thumb on the opening or even cover it with a cap or bottle top.

eventssafety says:

Good Afternoon Charlie,

Thank you for your comment.

You create an interesting point when it comes to the use of bottles instead of cups at festivals to reduce the risk of drinks being spiked. However, do you think this could hinder the event experience as this would limit attendees drink choice?

Stephanie says:

I agree with the comments above. Including the cost in the ticket price will ensure the funding is available for the kits and the cost will be spread out across a large number meaning the increase in price won’t be too great to potentially put people off purchasing a ticket. I think security in particular needs to be well trained on this matter as they are often the ones to deal with the victims and can keep an eye out on the evenings events without being distracted by other tasks which bar staff will be

eventssafety says:

Good Afternoon Stephanie,

You make a great comment about training security staff as well as bar staff in the signs/ symptoms of drink spiking. Do you think attendees would feel as though they could approach security staff at a festival if believe they have been spiked?

Lauren says:

I like the idea of the KnoNap but it sounds like a costly product for event managers. Do you think there should be a government campaign that could support the distribution of these napkins (and similar products) to help minimise the issue altogether?

eventssafety says:

Good Afternoon Lauren,
Thank you for your comment.
If the government was to launch a campaign into this issue, do you think all festivals would adhere to the guidelines? With Event Mangers taking action themselves and subsidising the cost through ticket sales and the sale of dinks, do you believe action would happen sooner?

John Lannon says:

An interesting discussion. Training of the staff would be very helpful, along with heightened security. Where does the drink get spiked? Is it at the bar? Bar tenders can look out for this, and if they suspect somebody they can be reported to the security team, who in turn can eject them and call the police.

eventssafety says:

Good Evening John,

Thank you for taking time to leave a comment.
Police reports have shown that spiking usually occurs at the bar when the drink is being first bought. With staff training, the hope is that it can be spotted by staff, if victim is unaware of the situation.

Charlotte says:

Really interesting read, thank you for sharing your own personal experiences.
As you so rightly pointed out, training staff is key to help not only to prevent drink spiking but also help those who have had their drink spiked particularly as it can be confused with just being drunk and disorderly. I agree about including testing kits to be included within the ticket prices. Making this visually clear to anyone who is buying a ticket, as this would aid anyone who needs to test their drink but also show that the event is putting measures in place to reduce drink spiking. Do you think this would also act as a deterrent to those who may try and spike other attendees drink? Would event managers also need to look at having it printed on the ticket itself, due to issues of re-selling? Although, including the cost of this kits within a ticket price, could potentially anger some attendees as they could not see why they have to be the ones to pay for them.

eventssafety says:

Good Evening Charlotte,

Thank you for your comment.
You make a good point in regards to attendees believing they shouldn’t be the ones to pay for the additional cost. The managers do have the option of hiding this cost from the attendees, as they do not have to disclose how the ticket sales revenue is used. However, as this is a current issues in society, do you not think attendees would be willing to contribute to this cost in order to increase event safety?

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