Australia: ‘Police drug dogs not working to stop music festival supply’ - - PressFrom - Australia
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Australia‘Police drug dogs not working to stop music festival supply’

08:05  17 july  2019
08:05  17 july  2019 Source:   9news.com.au

NSW music festival deaths inquest to begin

NSW music festival deaths inquest to begin An inquest into the deaths of six people at NSW music festivals will begin this week at the NSW Coroner's Court. The deaths of six people will be examined at an inquest starting this week into a series of suspected drug-related fatalities at NSW music festivals. Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame will preside over the hearings which will be held at the NSW Coroners Court in Lidcombe from Monday. The inquest will examine the deaths of Diana Nguyen, Joseph Nguyen Binh Pham, Callum Brosnan, Joshua Gerard Tam and Alexandra Ross-King at NSW festivals between September 2018 and January 2019.

“ Police use of drug detection dogs was associated with increased purchasing (of drugs ) within festival grounds.” Dr Hughes also voiced her opposition to the argument that drug -detection dogs used by police at festivals is working to limit the supply of illicit substances. © AAP The findings of

‘ Police drug dogs not working to stop music festival supply ’. A leading criminologist has told an inquest into six MDMA-related music festival deaths that the use of police drug -detection dogs does not increase safety.

‘Police drug dogs not working to stop music festival supply’© AAP The use of police drug-detection dogs at music festivals has a direct connection to the most dangerous effects of illicit substances on people who attend the events, according to a leading criminologist. The use of police drug-detection dogs at music festivals has a direct connection to the most dangerous effects of illicit substances on people who attend the events, according to a leading criminologist.

Dr Caitlin Hughes from the UNSW National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre today told an inquest into the MDMA-related deaths of six young people that the police use of dogs does little to increase safety.

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We headed along to watch the sniffer dog operation in action, and ask punters whether the presence of dogs would stop them taking drugs at Rainbow. Image supplied . For all of the police presence on the ground at Rainbow, there were very few arrests. Early anecdotal reports said 30 people had been

drug detection dogs at music festivals , ever since police patted her down and rummaged through her suitcase at the Secret Garden festival a few years ago. She said the implications of being searched by police during drug detection dog operations went beyond short-term public humiliation.

“(It) was the strategy associated with the most perverse effects,” she said.

“The use of police drug-detection dogs at festival settings is probably the strategy to be least used if your central goal is reducing harm and improving public health and safety.

“Police use of drug detection dogs was associated with increased purchasing (of drugs) within festival grounds.”

Dr Hughes also voiced her opposition to the argument that drug-detection dogs used by police at festivals is working to limit the supply of illicit substances.

‘Police drug dogs not working to stop music festival supply’© AAP The findings of an analysis of criminal incidents between 2008 and 2018 found the 'vast majority' of offences connected to police dogs included young people in possession of drugs.

While giving evidence at the inquest, she highlighted the findings of an analysis of criminal incidents recorded by police between 2008 and 2018 that revealed the “vast majority” of offences connected to police dogs included young people in possession of drugs.

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People attending the Above and Beyond music festival will be denied entry if a police dog detects illicit drugs on them – even if none are found. The ombudsman questioned whether the use of sniffer dogs “will ever provide a fair, efficacious and cost effective tool to target drug supply ”.

Senior constable tells inquiry none of his searches at 2018 Splendour in the Grass could have been justified.

From that analysis, 86.4 per cent of all incidents included drug users in possession of an illicit substance, while just four per cent covered individuals supplying them to others.

“(I have) cautioned against the deployment (of dogs) at festival settings because of the known harms that can eventuate,” Dr Hughes told the inquest.

The findings were also supported by Dr Monica Barratt, a senior research fellow at Melbourne’s RMIT University, who told the inquest earlier today that MDMA has accounted for the second-highest number of festival-goers seeking emergency medical treatment.

‘Police drug dogs not working to stop music festival supply’© 9News The deaths of six young people are being investigated in an inquest over whether medical treatment was adequate and appropriate, and if effective harm minimisation strategies were in place at multiple NSW music festivals.

In a survey of more than 5000 people who attended Australian music festivals, Dr Barratt said 4.3 per cent of people sought medical treatment in the past 12 months for issues relating to alcohol, followed by 2.5 per cent for MDMA.

Adding to that, she also told the inquest that on average festival-goers were found to consume 15 standard alcohol drinks at events – or three-times the recommended limit – and an average of three MDMA pills were taken in a single session.

“There’s no safe way you can guarantee, 100 per cent, that nothing bad will happen,” she said.

“There’s no way of knowing anything that has a risk is going to be safe in that incidence… We can’t go forward with this idea there’s 100 per cent safety.

“It doesn’t mean we can’t start messaging as soon as possible – I think we should.”

Read more

Festival-goer with 'caught with more than 200 MDMA pills' is among hundreds charged after a record drug seizure at Splendour in the Grass.
Police allegedly made more than 350 drug detections and seized 2.8 kilograms worth of illicit drugs in an operation that began on July 18 at the North Byron Parklands.

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