Tweed-Byron police say the culture of taking drugs at music festivals, especially among young teenagers, is booming and a real worry.
The comments by the local area commander Superintendent Stuart Wilkins follow a massive crackdown at the three-day Splendour in the Grass festival at the weekend, which up to 20,000 young people attended.
Police used sniffer dogs, drug-detection devices and random searches throughout the festival, catching over 400 young people with drugs, including cannabis, amphetamines, ecstasy and cocaine.
Officers had searched 730 people and over 30 vehicles during the blitz.
Almost 200 court-attendance notices were issued for the more serious offences, while around 150 festival-goers were cautioned for cannabis use or possession.
Superintendent Wilkins told media that drug use at music festivals was increasing and juveniles were among those caught, which was of real concern.
Supt Wilkins said he was surprised at the extent to which festival goers hid drugs to avoid the massive crackdown, which police had warned about in the lead-up to the festival.
He said people hid drugs internally, on their body or in cavities in their cars.
‘They go to significant lengths to hide it knowing full we’ll be there in numbers,’ he said.
‘But it’s also about the drugs we didn’t seize, the people who were clearly under the influence of drugs, the medical tent being absolutely flat out, police being called to assist with people who were suffering the effects of drugs and being violent or unable to care for themselves.’
Supt Wilkins said the message about illegal drugs was obviously not getting across and that taking drugs at music festivals was ‘a culture, there’s no question about it’.
He said police were obliged to respond and tackle the issue of illicit drugs.
But police also were critical of the number of drunk people.
A post on the Facebook site for Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Queensland, said:
‘More than 400 people found with drugs on them from 750 searched. Drug culture is intertwined with youth culture, stop locking our kids up!’