A festival has offered drugs tests to revellers in a bid to keep them safe during the event.

The Secret Garden Party, which took place at a Cambridgeshire farm last weekend, joined forces with the police, local authorities and a drugs safety charity to try and reduce the number of people falling ill after taking illegal substances. They handed out tests which people could use to test illegal substances before taking them.

The event organisers worked with The Loop, which carries out forensic testing of drugs at events. The organisation normally carries out checks on substances which have been confiscated or given up voluntarily.

While the tests could be seen by some as encouraging drug use, they are also accompanied by information and support.

Fiona Measham, The Loop’s co-founder, told The Guardian: “For the first time, we’ve been able to offer the testing service to individual users as part of a tailored advice and information package provided by a team of experienced drugs workers. This can help people make informed choices, raising awareness of particularly dangerous substances in circulation and reducing the chance of drug-related problems occurring.”

More than 80 concerning substances detected

Over the course of the event in Abbots Ripton, around 200 festival-goers used the tests. And more than 80 of the substances tested were found to be of concern, including extra-strong ecstasy as well as bad batches of both MDMA and ketamine.

Many of the people attending the festival asked the authorities to destroy their drugs once they found out they did not contain what they thought they did.

Steve Rolles, from Transform Drug Policy Foundation, said around one in four people who used the tests asked for them to be disposed of.

He believes the tests encourage safer drug use, adding: “We were taking dangerous substances out of circulation.”

While illegal substances can be tested to check their ingredients, drugs tests are usually used to find out whether someone has taken something. AlphaBiolabs offers drug testing services to local authorities, law firms, employers and the general public.

Drug testing can help maintain safety in the workplace by discouraging staff from taking illegal substances. It can also help family members seek medical advice and professional help for a loved one with a substance misuse problem.