The UK’s night time economy is failing to protect its most valuable asset: the people who go out and enjoy it. Night Lives: Reducing Drug-Related Harm in the Night Time Economy, a joint report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform, Durham University, The Loop and Volteface, advocates for the adoption of a set of bold yet practical initiatives across our towns and cities to address this failure. Aimed at stakeholders including the night time industry, local authorities, police forces and public health, Night Lives offers new ideas for reducing drug-related harm in the UK’s night time economy (NTE).

The history of drug-related harm in the NTE reveals that drug-related deaths have acted as a catalyst for most policy and licensing developments relating to drugs, whether progressive, such as Manchester City Council’s early adoption of Newcombe’s Safer Dancing Guidelines, or regressive, such as the repeated attempts to close Fabric in London. This report bucks that trend.

Drug-related deaths due to ecstasy and cocaine continue to rise and are at their highest since records began, while hospital admissions due to these drugs have risen dramatically in recent years. Admissions for cocaine alone have increased by 90 percent since 2011. This rise is seen despite drug usage rates remaining broadly consistent over the same time period.

Based on in-depth interviews with over 50 key stakeholders, this report concludes that the major perceived barriers to implementation of initiatives to reduce drug-related harm can be overcome through partnership working and a greater understanding of their wider positive impact among all stakeholders. The report also recommends the introduction of four key initiatives for the night time economies of our towns and cities:

  • Drug safety testing services available to the general public in night life districts;
  • An independent information campaign on reducing drug-related harm;
  • Training for night life staff in how to respond effectively to drug use in the NTE;
  • The adoption of the UK festival drug policy of ‘3Ps: Prevent, Pursue, Protect’ in licensed venues.