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Praise for reduction in drug crime at Kendal Calling

[C]umbria Police has praised its’ dogs and their handlers as the number of drugs offences committed at Kendal Calling dramatically reduced.

This year’s event saw the Constabulary’s entire dog section, inclusive of all dogs and their handlers, present for the first time. The team worked on site from Monday 24th until Sunday 30th July, to conduct pro-active drug searches.

A total of 14 people were either arrested or dealt with for drugs offences, compared to 54 in 2016.

Chief Inspector Andy Wilkinson said: “Months of planning took place for this event and it is down to the partnership working between the police, festival organisers, security teams and other key agencies that the result has been an enjoyable event for most.

“This year I’d particularly like to praise the dog section, and our handler colleagues, who worked tirelessly throughout the week in order to reduce the amount of illegal substances being brought in to the site. At one gate alone, we were able to prevent more than 200 street deals from entering the festival, due to the planning and operation put into place.

“The significant reduction in drug related crime is testament to all officers dedication and we will look to continue this approach in future years. The amnesty bins were also widely used and we continue to support The Loop front-of-house testing service, which was a fantastic resource that offered an extra level of safeguarding to festival goers.”

A total of 12 arrests were made during the 2017 event.

Officers arrested 4 people on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs, and one on suspicion of possession with intent to supply psychoactive substance.

Police also arrested 4 people on suspicion of burglary of a portacabin, 2 on suspicion of drug driving, and 1 on suspicion of rape. The man arrested on suspicion of rape has been released under investigation and the victim is being supported.

A further 4 people were dealt with for possession of Class A drugs, and 5 for possession of Class B drugs.

There was also one report of a sexual assault, 4 of common assault, and 6 reports of theft from a tent – all are under investigation by police.

Chief Inspector Wilkinson continued: “Although we did make a number of arrests, this number is relatively small in comparison to the large volume of people who attended the festival, and we are pleased that most enjoyed the music and had a great time despite the weather conditions and the mud.

“Unfortunately there were some serious crimes committed, and our specialist detectives are now working hard to investigate these, and support the victims.”

A spokesman for Kendal Calling Festival said: “We’re very pleased but not surprised to see a drop in the number of reported crimes, arrests and drugs incidents at Kendal Calling this year. We have a wonderful festival family who really do look out for each other as well as robust measures to prevent drugs getting into the festival site.

“Our work with the Loop has, for the second year, provided an extra layer of safety for those vulnerable to dangerous substances. Initial figures suggest that 50% of people who used the service disposed of their drugs or reduced the amount they intended to take after receiving the results, which is an incredibly encouraging outcome.

“Our whole team is sickened and saddened by the alleged sexual assaults. Absolutely no instance of sexual assault on any level is acceptable, either at festivals or in society as a whole.

“Kendal Calling is committed to supporting any victim, both at the event and following it.  This year we have been involved in the creation of a campaign, with the Association of Independent Festivals, which raised awareness and encouraged people to understand what constitutes sexual assault and to report it if it happens.

“Local sexual assault support service The Bridgeway, which operates in Penrith throughout the year, have been present at the festival promoting their support services all weekend and we would advise anyone who is worried about having been sexually assaulted to contact them, even if it’s just for a supportive chat.

“We will, of course, continue to support the Police in their enquiries into these incidents.”

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