Britain’s racecourses are to send out a loud and clear message that recreational drug use is not tolerated in a campaign for the summer focusing on the slogan ‘End your day on the right high’.
A drug deterrent initiative, developed as part of the Racecourse Associations’s Have A Great Day at the Races strategy, is being piloted across the sector as a proactive effort to discourage drug use.
Although most complaints around anti-social behaviour involve drinking, rather than widespread drug use at race meetings, the RCA hopes that getting their anti-drug message out before the busy summer festival period will serve to tackle the issue before it can gain a foothold.
Paul Swain, the RCA’s brand and experience manager, said: “Last year we did a piece of work regarding the perceptions of racing from a public point of view and a couple of things came out that we thought required attention, one of which was anti-social behaviour, primarily to do with drink. We tackle that with our responsible drinking campaign.
“We also wanted to be proactive in terms of drugs, not so much because there is a problem on racecourses but because from looking at research from other sectors, such as the night-time economy, drink and drugs often do go hand in hand. It’s a preventative measure, to try to stop it before it starts.”
The RCA worked with the Horseracing Police Practitioners Forum to devise its deterrence measures. Racecourses will be encouraged to remind customers of a zero tolerance policy towards drugs before busy ‘social’ fixtures.
“Drug use is not a subject that comes up as much as drink,” said Swain. “There is the isolated occasion when a racecourse will highlight it. It’s more about being proactive in tackling it.
“We know it happens in other sectors where people enjoy drink and it would be foolish to think it is not going to happen at some of our venues some of the time, so let’s tackle it before it becomes a wider problem.”
He continued: “It’s really for the big social days, Saturdays and summer festivals, when, because of the sheer number of people, it’s inevitable that a good percentage will be there to have a drink and a really good day out.
“With ‘End your day on the right high’ we’re being a bit tongue in cheek. It’s to say make sure you enjoy your day with some winners and having a really good day, as opposed to anything else.
“We’re not policing this. It’s not going to result in people being led out of racecourses in handcuffs. We are just trying to make people aware, in a soft way, that it’s not tolerated, so don’t let it ruin your or anyone else’s day.”
Courtesy of www.racingpost.com