Festivalgoers in Melbourne turned up to popular dance festival Creamfields to a rude awakening over the weekend as Victoria Police used the festival as part of a crackdown on drugs and drinking.
Turning up in huge numbers in the hundreds, the police carried out numerous searches on ticket holders wishing to enter the event. They were assisted by Passive Alert Detection (PAD) sniffer dogs that are trained to detect illicit substances.
But despite some labelling the police actions are unwarranted and heavy-handed, the results speak for themselves. All up police arrested two hundred people at the gates of the Melbourne Showgrounds event, a record number for an event of its type.
Illicit substances seized by police included ecstasy, cocaine, cannabis and amphetamines. Of the two hundred arrested, 175 have been referred to a drug diversion program while the rest await more serious drug related charges.
A spokesperson for the police, Acting Senior Sergeant Mark Pilkington, said yesterday that the force was disappointed people continued to bring illicit drugs to music festivals.
“These drugs are dangerous, they are manufactured by criminals with no regard for peoples’ safety,” he said. “We will continue to police these types of events in an attempt to limit the impact these drugs have on society.”
According to The Age, the blitz was the biggest in history at a Melbourne music festival, and the number of punters arrested dwarfs previous arrest numbers at similar and larger festivals.
Fellow dance music festival Future Music Festival was 45 people arrested for drug offences last month, whereas popular alternative festival Big Day Out only saw 20 arrests for drug related offenses.
The sister event to Creamfields – Stereosonic – also had a high number of arrests last year in Melbourne, totalling 89 for possession of a drug of dependence.
But it wasn’t only Melbourne festivalgoers that got caught up in the blitz. The Creamfields event in Sydney also saw a large number of arrests for drug offences.
According to NSW Police, 75 people were charged yesterday with various drug-related offences at the dance festival at Moore Park, in Sydney’s east yesterday.
Six drug detections dogs were used to sniff-out revellers attempting to take illegal substances into the event. During the operation police searched 250 event patrons resulting in the arrest and charging of seventy five people with possession and supply of prohibited drugs, including ecstasy, amphetamines and cannabis.
Seventy people were issued court attendance notices for the offence of possess prohibited drug with a further five people charged with supply. Ten people were issued cannabis caution notices.
During the course of the operation police found quantities of prohibited drugs discarded on the ground. The drugs were subsequently seized for destruction.
Surry Hills Local Area Commander, Superintendent Anthony Crandell said the number of arrests is a concern. “The majority of the 11,780 revellers were well behaved however the volume of detections is of concern.”
“The consumption of prohibited drugs creates significant risks including addiction; deficiencies of judgement; changes in behaviour that can create greater vulnerability or propensity for criminal acts; together with serious consequences for health.”
“We will continue to use drug detection dogs at future events to minimise risks associated with drug use and misuse”, said Superintendent Crandell.”
Despite the large amount of drugs found at each event, only one suspected drug overdose was recorded. A spokesperson for Ambulance Victoria said that one male had been taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Parkville but was now “in a stable condition.”
Video also emerged overnight of a man who climbed the scaffolding of the main stage at the Sydney event and subsequently fell 30 feet. The extent of his injuries, if any, are unknown at this point.