The organizers of the Reading & Leeds festival have announced that they have tightened security to “put an end” to drug dealers operating at the venue.
The new measures have been introduced following the death of a teenager at the festival last year, an investigation has revealed.
David Celino, 16, fell ill after using ecstasy at the 2022 edition of the Leeds festival, which his group of friends bought from a camel in the Camping Plus area of the centre. He was later transferred to hospital, where he died on 28 August.
At the inquest into his son’s death, Celino’s father, Gianpiero, expressed concern about the festival’s insecurity for under-18s, and pushed for a ban on 16- and 17-year-olds from the music event. .
Now Melvin Benn, general director of Festival Republic, has expressed to Celino’s parents the “real pain” he felt after his son’s death. In his appearance at Wakefield Magistrates’ Court, he also revealed that he had lost a nephew to drugs and explained that Celino’s death had “taken an emotional toll on me and all my staff, no doubt about it” (via Subway) .
He also confirmed that, although he does not believe entry should be prohibited for those under 18, the festival will introduce more security measures in this year’s edition. Especially to protect teenagers from “prey” traffickers, who could take advantage of their “naivety.”
These new measures include more security officers and support centers on site, as well as the presence of sniffer dogs at all entrances by 2023. Benn also informed the court that the organizers will control the number of children under the age of 18 who attends the festival.
“[The festival]will launch an anti-drugs operation to eliminate the dealers and expel them from the venue, which is a very significant change,” he declared (via BBC News). “The secret is that no camper is more than 200 meters from [un centro de apoyo]”, he said.
Commenting on recent changes to the festival – which runs from August 25-27 – Cllr James Gibson, Chairman of Leeds City Council’s Licensing Committee, said that although he decided it was “highly unlikely” that the advice to prevent the entry of unaccompanied minors. 18, he is “impressed” with the efforts made to strengthen security and fight drug traffickers.
Last month, the Reading and Leeds festival confirmed that The 1975 would be the last headliners at this year’s event, following Lewis Capaldi’s withdrawal.
Other headliners at this year’s festival include Foals, Billie Eilish, The Killers, Sam Fender and Imagine Dragons. Other artists on the bill include Wet Leg, Bicep, Becky Hill, Steve Lacy, Central Cee, MUNA, The Snuts, Tion Wayne and many more.