London Dance Safety Campaign

Contact name: 
Patrick Branigan
The 26 London Drug Action Teams (DATs), originally set up by the UK government to act as local taskforces in the national initiative, Tackling Drugs Together.
07989 174226
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK



Drugs have long been associated with music and youth culture.


To reduce the harmful effects of drug use in dance venues.


A multi-levelled approach was adopted, and included:

  • A poster campaign using the London public transport system - posters featured cannabis, cocaine, XTC, LSD, poppers and speed;
  • A booklet campaign throughout London clubs - the leatlet provided in-depth information about dance drugs, and health and safety measures and was known as the Vital Information Pack, or VIP booklet;
  • Training of club professionals - one-day training programmes were organised and run by Release. These were aimed at club managers, door staff, outreach workers and paramedics;
  • A campaign phone-line - operators provided information about the campaign and dance events, and provided VIP booklets on request;
  • A series of club nights attended by London Dance Safety outreach workers.

Posters on London Underground were shown to be a successful medium for raising awareness of the campaign in this target audience. The campaign was positively perceived as realistic, non-moralistic and factual. The take-home message was a little unclear, possibly a result of the contradictory and confusing drugs information received from other sources.


Evidence of high recreational drug usage among London dance-club attenders justifies targeting this subgroup of the population in future similar drug campaigns.

Intervention details

Type of intervention
Selective prevention, Harm reduction
Problem addressed
Illegal drugs, Alcohol, Polydrug use, Overdosing, Drug dealing, Dehydration/ overheating
Intervention setting
Club/ disco/ afters
Target population

Dance-club attenders

Substances adressed
All substances
Strategic target group (social agents acting as intermediaries between intervention and target group)


Intervention activities
Providing information
Use of media
Informative talk or lecture
Peer-group approach
Actions included:Poster campaign;Booklet campaign;Training of club professionals.
Theory/evidence behind the intervention

Impetus for the intervention came from a growing recognition that the use of recreational drugs had become increasingly common in London dance venues, and that the circumstances of such use were likely to increase the role of adverse consequences. A non judgemental harm-minimisation approach was chosen rather than a shock tactic or "just say no" approach. This was believed to be more realistic and ultimately useful in reducing the harmful effects of drug taking in this environment with this audience. Focus groups conducted with London clubbers confirmed this view.

Evaluation details

Evaluation type (e.g. process, outcome, cost-effectiveness)
Process evaluation and outcome evaluation
Activities evaluated

The target groups' attitudes towards, and awareness of, the campaign were evaluated.

Evaluation results (Outcome evaluation)

Respondents were shown the campaign material and asked if they had seen it recently (prompted awareness): 66 per cent of respondents in the first post-test survey, and 67 per cent of respondents in the second post-test survey indicated that they had seen at least one of the posters. In the pre-test survey 5 per cent of respondents claimed to have seen the campaign material, although this was impossible as posters were not yet displayed in the public domain. The recall error (and/or desirability bias), ie the proportion of respondents giving a false-positive recall of campaign materials, was therefore taken as having this value. It is likely then that at least 60 per cent of respondents had actually seen the campaign material.

Recall of the campaign VIP booklet was generally lower. Levels of awareness rose as the campaign progressed from 7 per cent in the first post-test survey to 12 per cent in the final post-test survey.

Those who had seen the posters or booklets were asked what the main message of the campaign was. The harm minimisation approach was recognised by the majority of the respondents, and the campaign was not perceived as using shock or scare techniques.

However, just under 10 per cent thought that the message was unclear and the same proportion identified the campaign message as one of anti-drugs or drug prevention.

The in-depth interviews also showed that the target audience was impressed by the quality and the nature of the information presented. Respondents appreciated the approach of presenting simply 'the facts' and the safety guidelines for clubbing. Generally, opinions expressed about the campaign philosophy were positive. This seemed to be attributable to the realistic tone and honest, non-judgmental style of the campaign.

Evaluation references

Branigan PM, Wellings K, Kuper H. Posterspotting: the Evaluation of the London Dance Safety Campaign. Report for Kensington, Chelsea & Westminster Health Authority, 1997.

Branigan, P. & Wellings, K. (1998). Dance drug education in clubs: evaluation of the London Drug Safety Campaign. Health Education Journal, 57, 232-240.