Mum of Leeds Festival drugs death teenager welcomes review of safety and welfare
The mum of a 17-year-old girl who died after taking drugs at Leeds Festival has welcomed a review of safety and welfare measures for future events.
Anya Buckley, who went to the 2019 Leeds Festival with a group of school friends of similar age, collapsed and later died after taking drugs including ecstasy.
After an inquest at Wakefield Coroner's Court into Anya's death, senior coroner Kevin McLoughlin said he was concerned that 16 and 17-year-olds are allowed to go to the festival unsupervised in a situation where drugs are available and young teenagers are “easy prey.”
After recording a conclusion of drug-related death, Mr McLoughlin sent a Regulation 28 prevention of future deaths report to Leeds City Council and asked the local authority to consider increasing the minimum age for unsupervised festival-goers.
The council has now produced its report after a series of meetings and working groups involving interested parties including event organiser Festival Republic and Anya's mum, Lisa Bulmer.
The report states: "The committee recognises that the issue is not as straightforward as indicating a restriction on age, as there is the national position to consider and festival age ranges are not restricted by legislation or suggested by guidance.
"The committee feels that this is an issue which is relevant to numerous festivals throughout the country."
The report added: "Festival Republic, after discussion by the working group and Licensing Committee on how 16 and 17 year olds are already or could in future be identified on site, intend immediately to implement a system of wrist bands for 16 and 17 year olds so they can be identified more easily and quickly."
Miss Bulmer called for additional safety measures - increased water on site, increased medical facilities and increased drug awareness education for young people.
The report states that Festival Republic has pledged to review the drinking water facilities and "enhance as necessary."
The report states that there is one main medical centre at the Leeds Festival site and two additional sites able to treat festival goers - including ambulance provision.
It adds: "Festival Republic said they will review this provision and increase in the camp sites as necessary.
"They have also committed to obtaining specialist medical advice to establish whether or not further facilities are required for the treatment of drug related admissions."
On the subject of increased education of young people about drug awareness, the report states: "Festival Republic explained what measures they have in place already, and confirmed they are committed to working closely with the council’s public health team to widen educational awareness."
The working group also considered the provision of voluntary drug testing on site.
The report states: "Information from an organisation (The Loop) which provides this facility at some sites in the country was considered, though it was recognised that this may increase the risk of harm by creating a sense of false security.
"Part of the discussion was that such organisations may test drugs and be able to say what they are made up of, however they are unlikely to be able to say with any certainty what the impact of taking the drug might be on different people.
"Festival Republic were open to consider the use of such an organisation going forward if supported by Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police.
"The working group heard that the Police do already carry out back-of-house drug testing."
Miss Bulmer said: "I feel like some positives have come out of it (the report), but I don't think it goes far enough.
"Increased water and medical facilities can only be a good thing.
"You can't have enough medical provision somewhere you know young people are taking drugs."
She added: "Education is key. I spoke to Anya's friends after her death and they told me that they had received little or no substance misuse education at all in school or at college."
At Leeds Crown Court last month, three men - including 18-year-old Luke Jones - were sentenced after admitting conspiracy to supply ecstasy at Leeds Festival in August 2019.
The court was told Anya had told a friend at the festival that she had agreed to smuggle some drugs into the festival for Jones, who had offered her free drugs for doing so.
Medical staff tried to revive Anya, but she was declared dead just after 3.30am on August 24, 2019.
Toxicology results showed Anya had a combination of ecstasy, ketamine and cocaine in her system.
Leeds Crown Court was told Luke Jones, 18, was believed to have supplied ecstasy to Anya at the festival. Jones, of Lauren Close, Oldham, admitted conspiring to supply ecstasy between August 1 and 25 2019 and was jailed for two years and eight months.