Dozens of youngsters in reggae fest drug arrests

Dozens of parents across Sweden received unwelcome calls from social workers in Uppsala this weekend. The message: you're child has been arrested for doing drugs.

Around 250 people have been arrested at this weekend’s Uppsala Reggae Festival, most of them for minor drugs offences. At least 46 of those arrested are under 18 and eight are only 15. In almost all cases they were found in possession of small amounts of cannabis.

The reaction from parents has been mixed, according to social services chiefs:

“Many have said: ‘we’ll come and fetch them’, but not all of them can come immediately. They have asked us to release the children,” said Björn Andersson of Uppsala social services.

The reggae festival started on Thursday evening, ending on Saturday. While most of the arrests were for using cannabis or for being in possession of small amounts, police have also arrested dealers.

“We take this seriously, and believe that those arrested are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Uppsala Police spokesman Christer Nordström.

A makeshift police station with drug testing facilities was set up in the town to deal with the expected drug problems. Over 80 police officers were drafted in to help police the festival, as well as a number of social workers and over 50 volunteers.

Björn Andersson said it was “serious” that so many youngsters had been arrested. He added that he would not be calling for the festival to be banned in the future.

“We don’t think a ban would solve the problem. The festival also gives something positive in the form of music and joy,” he said.