Leeds Festival organisers and police report on ‘hard-line’ approach to drug dealers after David Celino death
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Following the death of 16-year-old David Celino at the 2022 edition of the event the organisers – Festival Republic – promised that they would implement tighter security measures.
Now the company and West Yorkshire Police have each issued reports on how the festival was managed this year in response to a direct request by the senior coroner for Leeds, Kevin McLoughlin, who oversaw David’s inquest in August.
The inquest concluded that David died after taking “about one-and-a-half ecstasy tablets” he and his friends bought from a dealer at the site who has never been identified.
A report authored by Festival Republic’s managing director Melvin Benn said that a debrief of the event’s emergency teams “noted that the hard-line taken this year was welcomed by all”.
He said that the festival built a “hostile environment for drug dealers” through a variety of measures such as more robust searches, increased police visibility and the presence of search dogs at every gate.
West Yorkshire Police have confirmed that 71 arrests were made at the event, of which 59 were over drug-related offences. Police said that an increase in the usage of CCTV to find drug activity resulted in more arrests.
Some of those arrested have already been convicted, including two young men who were caught with over £30,000 worth of drugs.
In comparison, there were 50 arrests made at the 2022 event, of which 29 were drug-related.
The force commented that the “increase in robust security and more evictions” made the event feel “safer” and it was agreed that the same approach should be carried out at the 2024 edition of the event.