Police presence at festivals will be where needed

NEWS: No sniffer dogs at Splendour: Aussie band's plea

DRUG culture at music festivals stepped meekly back into the spotlight this week as Sydney band Art vs Science guitarist Dan McNamee wrote a letter to Ballina MP Don Page asking him to instigate a no-sniffer dog trial at Splendour in the Grass.

SEARCH: Police and sniffer dogs check festival goers at Summerdayze music festival in 2013.

SEARCH: Police and sniffer dogs check festival goers at Summerdayze music festival in 2013.

The hope behind the letter was to prevent the idea of a "panic" overdose.

A "panic" overdose is when a person sees sniffer dogs being used near the entry to the festival and, in a panic, ingests their whole stash to avoid being caught.

Often this can be too much for the person to handle and results in an overdose.

Without sniffer dogs at music festivals, McNamee believes the numbers of accidental overdoses will decrease.

“Automatically you will cut out the number of hospitalisations due to people panicking upon sight of the dogs and ingesting their whole weekend’s supply of drugs,” McNamee wrote.

“This tragedy is all the more tragic because these people are often inexperienced drug users who might wait all year to go to one or two music festivals and ingest these substances there.

“A police presence which focusses [sic] on stopping truly anti social behaviour - violence and aggression - is all that is needed.”

Bendigo police Acting Senior Sergeant Tony Kekich said generally police would not be swayed by any group's request to police an event a certain way.

He said police used the intelligence provided to them as a basis for how they deploy their resources.

Acting Senior Sergeant Kekich has worked on police operations for Groovin the Moo for a number of years.

He said after two years of having sniffer dogs at Groovin the Moo, police utilised the dogs at the train station this year.

"The intelligence received helps us make up our minds on how we will police an event," he said.

"If we feel there is a need to concentrate resources in a particular area we will. 

"The government leaves policing up to police. For an artist to come along and ask (for something) won't sway us in our decision making.

"We won't be swayed by group or organisation about where or when we can or can't go to police an event."

Acting Senior Sergeant Kekich said police looked a statistics and did a study about drug offences at Groovin the Moo.

"We found they were minor offences, not enough to justify the resources.

"That's not to say there won't be sniffer dogs at another festival, if intelligence suggests it needs policing. One year from the next is different, we make an assessment every time. 

"From my knowledge, this year I don't think we had anything, we had one offender charged at the event with drug trafficking last year."

Acting Senior Sergeant Kekich also said GTM was a well-run festival with safety at the forefront of every organisers' minds.

"Safety is at the forefront of what we want (the festival) to be," he said.

"It is well run well by the organisers, council, police and every one who approaches planning for Groovin the Moo."

-  with The Age


Discuss "Police presence at festivals will be where needed"

Please note: All comments made or shown here are bound by the Online Discussion Terms & Conditions.