Strawberry Fields took place at Koonamoo in Victoria’s north over the weekend, ending with police detecting more than 50 drug drivers bound for the annual bush doof and even more nabbed for drug possession.
Victoria Police claim a total of 56 drivers were detected driving to the festival under the influence and a further 60 were caught in possession of drugs. Police were conducting an operation specifically targeting revellers.
“I can’t believe people have no regard for their own safety and other road users,” said Inspector Dave Ryan, telling The Herald Sun that he was exceptionally disappointed at the ignorance of some festivalgoers.
The three-day operation, which involved local police, the dog squad, and highway patrol officers, was set up on the Goulburn Valley Highway and ended yesterday, with two drivers caught drink driving on their way home from the event.
The operation follows on from a blitz in 2013, when police officers were shocked to find nearly one in two drivers tested reading positive for drugs. Of the 124 preliminary oral fluid tests for drugs, 51 returned a positive result.
“This number astounds me; nearly one person out of every two returned a positive reading,” said Eastern Region Inspector David Ryan in the Victoria Police report. “We are happy that we have been able to remove these drivers from the road.”
“However [we are] disappointed in how many people appear to think that it is okay to drive whilst impaired… it is obvious to us that the people attending this event have held little regard for the safety of other road users.”
In addition to the drug tests, 77 people were charged for possession of illegal substances, including cocaine, ice, and ecstasy, and two individuals were processed for drug trafficking. Police also issued 35 penalty notices for traffic related offences and charged three people for drink driving.
UPDATE 2.30PM 25/11/15: A media release by Victoria Police originally stated that “56 drivers tested positive to drug driving and 60 people were found to be in possession of drugs”.
However, a subsequent report by NSW Police Deniliquin had disputed these figures. According to the report, of the 147 random roadside drug tests conducted on festival Saturday, 14 came back positive, while 20 of the 122 tests conducted on Sunday yielded a positive result.