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Counting and accounting for drug-related deaths at UK music festivals 2017–2023: A commentary

Hands up at a festival


Tom Cooney and Fiona Measham


November 22, 2023


The exact number of drug-related deaths at UK music festivals in recent years is unknown, and there are no standard processes for reporting or accessing data on medical incidents at these events. For the purposes of this commentary, a table of all known drug-related deaths at music festivals from 2017 to 2023 was collated by cross-referencing media and social media content with a national database contributed to by coroners and personal communications with stakeholders, bereaved families and associated organisations. The search identified 32 potential drug-related deaths, 18 of which have been confirmed. These deaths, and the circumstances surrounding them, are pieced together here in con- sideration of the value of developing a greater understanding of the context to festival-related drug-related deaths. This commentary concludes by arguing for the introduction of a comprehensive, standardised and publicly accessible national database of drug-related medical incidents at UK music festivals in real time, with the aims of improving our ability to assess trends in drug-related harm and to evaluate the effectiveness of existing and emergent interventions by support services, in line with the current government drug strategy.

To access the full publication from the Drug Science Policy and Law journal, please see below:

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