NSW Police made 166 drug detections, seizing cannabis, amphetamines, MDMA (ecstasy), cocaine, Ketamine, LSD, mushrooms and Diazepam at the 2017 Dragon Dreaming Festival on November 3–6.
This increased from 78 and 116 in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
The six-day operation targeted drug offences, alcohol-related crime, traffic offences and anti-social behaviour at and around the annual dance music event, which attracted more than 4000 people.
The operation was led by The Hume Local Area Command (LAC) with assistance from Monaro LAC, the Police Dog Unit, the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command and others.
Several supply and possess prohibited drugs charges were laid, along with a number of cannabis cautions issued.
In addition, 22 drivers gave a positive reading to drugs after police conducted over 350 random drug tests.
There were also five people charged with prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA) offences after police conducted nearly 2000 random breath tests.
Chief Inspector John Sheehan from The Hume LAC said police worked closely with the festival organisers to make it clear to those attending that drug use, possession or supply would not be tolerated.
“Police are disappointed and shocked with the number of people carrying drugs and personally putting their own health and the health of others at risk,” Chief Inspector John Sheehan said.
Yass Valley Council expresses disappointment
Chris Berry, director of planning at Yass Valley Council, said the increased in drug detections was disappointing.
“Drugs have a significant risk of harm to the community.
“What we’ve asked the organisers to do is a risk assessment and outline how they’re able to mitigate those adverse impacts,” Mr Berry said.
“They’re responsible for emergency services and they’ve certainly made adjustments after a death in 2015 to deal with those issues.
“Despite those systems in place it’s disappointing to see more drug detections,” he said.
The development application (DA) of the festival has a five-year approval, which ceases in 2019.
The council placed conditions of approval on the DA requiring the event organisers to negotiate annually with NSW Police and NSW Ambulance to ensure adequate cover for security and medical personnel, as well as emergency management procedures.
These negotiations with emergency services are completed four weeks before the event.
Mr Berry said organisers would need to submit another DA before the 2019 event.
“Anyone running an event like that would need to monitor and adjust their systems. With an increase in detections, I’m sure they’d want to turn it around,” he said.
Organisers have been contacted for comments.