Revoking Rainbow’s License is not the Solution to Drug Harm | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Revoking Rainbow’s License is not the Solution to Drug Harm

Comment Writer Ali Gosling criticises the decision to revoke Rainbow's license, and argues the answer is for safer drug measures to be implemented

To the dismay of many of us UoB ravers, it has been announced that the legendary Rainbow Venues in Digbeth has had its license revoked following the death of a 19-year-old last month, after MDMA was found in his system.

Just like London’s Fabric, this decision by Birmingham City Council demonstrates authorities’ lack of ability to deal directly with the issue at hand; the war on drugs.

Unfortunately, revoking Rainbow’s license will not stop people taking illegal substances in Birmingham; they will simply do it elsewhere at other events. What needs to take place is the tightening of security and a method that reduces harm from drugs at Rainbow.

What needs to take place is the tightening of security and a method that reduces harm from drugs at Rainbow

The Birmingham Council demonstrates a regretful lack of understanding by revoking Rainbow’s license; instead, they need to work with the police and the venue to reduce drug abuse. It is naïve to assume that the closure of a venue like Rainbow will mean that dangerous drug use in Birmingham will cease to happen.

As much as it is difficult to decide whether a venue like Rainbow is to blame for drug abuse in its vicinities, there is also a question of the degree of responsibility that a venue holds.

In the tragic case of 19-year-old Michael Trueman, it seems that Rainbow does hold responsibility. It is alleged that he described of there being ‘something blue’ in his drink while being treated in hospital, suggesting that he was spiked. This is where Rainbow falls down; security needs to be tighter.

I have noticed that I am rarely properly searched

As a female, I have noticed that I am rarely properly searched. Security may ask for me to show them my bag, but will not pat me down. This seems to be due to a lack of female security members, and male security being unable to legally pat down any girls entering the venue. But even aside from that, on multiple occasions neither I nor my male counterparts have been properly searched; a clear indication of how Rainbow’s security could be easily improved and its events made safer.

However, a method of harm reduction and public safety would be more effective within venues such as Rainbow. Many festivals and events such as Boomtown, Parklife, and The Warehouse Project make use of The Loop; an organization that provides drug safety testing, welfare and harm reduction services. Those that have worked with The Loop emphasise its aid in educating the festival-goers, but stress the need for police to not only focus on the detection and arrest of drug offenders, but also devise a prevention and public health element within drug policies.

Festivals and events such as Boomtown, Parklife, and The Warehouse Project make use of The Loop; an organization that provides drug safety testing, welfare and harm reduction services

It is true that Rainbow’s name has arguably already been tarnished due to its association with people taking drugs at its events, given its warehouse rave environment in a student-dominated city. However, there is a huge multitude of people, like myself, who go to these incredible events for the music and the experience without the need to engage with illicit substances.

What seems most unfair about this court ruling is the damage to Rainbow’s reputation. Starting as a small, unknown pub in Digbeth, Rainbow has successfully branched out over years, adding to its collection the Warehouse, the Blackbox, Mama Roux’s, and most recently and impressively, Crane. The Rainbow Venues as a whole is a gem in the middle of the equally growing city of Birmingham.

For countless DJs and artists of techno, house, drum n bass, bassline, disco and more, Rainbow has been their second home and a place for them to develop and establish themselves in the music industry. The venue has undeniably helped put Birmingham firmly on the music scene map, and to close it down is to remove a staple piece of the shadow city’s cultural landscape.

The question remains as to what will happen to other venues that are part of the Rainbow collective

So, although it seems Rainbow is no longer, the question remains as to what will happen to other venues that are part of the Rainbow collective; will the policy on drugs be altered or tightened? And are Digbeth’s other venues now endangered as a result of this court ruling? What remains clear is that this ruling will have no impact on the issue of drug abuse in Birmingham, but that the Council needs to stop ignoring the problem and take a new approach that promotes harm reduction.

(@alixgosling)



Published

3rd December 2017 at 11:00 am



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