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April 11, 2021

Expect sniffer dogs at Splendour, say police

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Punters enjoy the atmosphere at last year's Splendour in the Grass, the first to be held at North Byron Parklands. Photo Jeff Dawson
Punters enjoy the atmosphere at last year’s Splendour in the Grass, the first to be held at North Byron Parklands. Photo Jeff Dawson

Splendour in the Grass Festival will not be exempt from police sniffer dog patrols and people found with drugs can expect the full force of the law. That was the message from Tweed/Byron Local Area Command yesterday.

Earlier in the week, Art vs Science vocalist Daniel Macnamee republished on the band’s Facebook page a letter he had written to Ballina MP Don Page asking for a trial removal of drug detection dogs from the festival.

The crux of Mr Manamee’s argument was that the presence of the dogs encourages festivalgoers to take all their drugs at once, rather than be caught, which in turn leads to a spike in ill effects and hospital admissions.

‘I suggested trialling a year in which sniffer dogs were absent from the festival and comparing the number of hospitalisations that occur due to drug overdoses (specifically panic-induced overdoses and “pre game” overdoses),’ he said.

‘Mr Page wrote back to me and has said he’ll forward my comments on to the relevant ministers,’ Mr Macnamee added.

In his letter to the MP, the rock star said, ‘I personally think it would be wonderful if we enjoyed music and socialised without drugs – alcohol included – but we cannot change people’s minds about drugs through fear alone. The record shows. It doesn’t work. But it does make the setting so much more dangerous for our children.’

But Don Page has said he would not be taking up the musician’s challenge.

‘I think personally it’s better to send a message that illicit drug use is harmful and dangerous and if you want to engage in illegal activity at Splendour, chances are you will be caught,’ he told APN Media yesterday.

And a Tweed/Byron LAC duty officer has reiterated the dogs will be out in full force at Splendour.

‘We’ll be checking people coming in in cars, people walking in, checking bags. So many people that come to these events are the same people – they know the police are going to be there, they know the dogs will be there,’ Inspector Gary Cohen told ABC this morning.

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  1. Thank God for that! One simple rule for the “Dope Heads”. DON’T TAKE DRUGS! Then you wont get caught. Bring on the dog’s!

    • ah if they didn’t take drugs they wouldn’t be dope heads, duh! religious, self righteous and slow! hat trick for peter k!

  2. The time will come when society will say NO to supporting losers who use tobacco and alcohol to excess. Likewise to those who use illicit drugs. The cost to the tax payer for the black market money, the policing, the medical care, rehabilitation, social services and loss of productivity would be an astounding amount. How tiresome it is to hear “trendies” making excuses for the loser elements of society.
    Why not simply make better choices because the day will come when the losers will present at a public hospital with a drug related problem and be told to go away because they have self inflicted condition.

  3. Hold on a minute Arthur Dotis, does your broad brush paint people who ‘eat to excess’ or ‘play sport to excess eg. extreme sports’ as “losers”. Lots of things can put people at risk and cost tax payers when incidents occur, including even our medical system.

    I thought we lived in a society that helped people who can’t help themselves, not one where we call them losers and push them away.

  4. fortunately the medical profession is not as judgemental , closed minded and uninformed as you seem to be arthur. it must be wonderful to be perfect like you ! along those lines lets ban sport because of the cost to society for injuries. and lets ban religion in order to eliminate priest pedophiles. you see how silly your comments are? the vast majority of people who take drugs do no harm to themselves and do not cost society. in fact take a look at govt revenue from alcohol. now go online and see how much money the Colorado govt has made from legal marihuana. altered states of consciousness have been a part of all societal groups throughout history. with holding treatment for that minority who need assistance is NOT going to help and is a foolish suggestion.
    sniffer dogs anywhere is a massive invasion of privacy and does nothing to help the problem , it simply makes it look like the cops are doing something, to the uninformed. how about putting in drug counsellors, and other support and help groups and recognizing that it is a symptom of other issues, not the problem in many cases. and how about accepting that some people simply like to alter their star of consciousness at times and that pray or meditation or alcohol are not the only way that people might want to do it!

  5. Law enforcement at music festivals like this are not going to reduce the distribution of drugs. The people who are taking them there are small time, often inexperienced users who are not looking to sell or distribute – entirely for personal use.

    Look at Portugal, who instead focused their efforts on harm reduction and minimization. After 10 years of this reform, results have been entirely positive. A decrease in users, fatalities, increased rate of people taking up treatment, street value of drugs going down etc. The war on drugs is nothing new, following by example from the US has not solved anything and isn’t going to either.

    Police should first and foremost be looking after the safety of patrons before anything else. Anti-social and violent behavior is when the law should be enforced; whether it is alcohol or drug related it should not make a difference. The typical sort of drugs that would be taken at Splendour are not the sort that encourage violence.

  6. Police with a sniffer dog were spotted in Byron on Thursday, sniffing around a well-know local muso who was busking in the centre of town. The muso was frisked by the cops but no ‘drugs’ were found on him. The cops took his name and address details all the same, ostensibly to keep a record of the incident.
    Who is keeping a record of how much these sniffer operations cost the taxpayer? How many lives have been ruined, not through the consumption of ‘illicit’ substances, but through having to go through the court and prison system and facing the stigma of incarceration? And how many years have been frittered away chasing the chimera know as the ‘war on drugs’ which we all know has been well and truly lost?
    Mr Macnamee is right to be worried: sniffer dogs at festivals like Splendour, ipso facto, encourage risky drug-taking by patrons to avoid detection. From a health and safety perspective, the politician’s and police’s dismissal of his concerns is cavalier and irresponsible.
    Make no mistake: the war on drugs is not just bad policy, it’s also a war on the people, including their freedom to enjoy a festival experience without unnecessary risk and busk in the streets of Byron without having their privates sniffed at by cops with dogs.

  7. I don’t respect drug use but this is confusing the issue. The issue is a breach of human rights. The capacity to randomly ‘search’ anyone by approaching them with a dog carte blanche without a warrant is unconstitutional and reeks of fascism. They can search anyone based on the responses of the dog – thats illegal – they can’t enter your home without a warrant or search your person otherwise.
    Pigs and Rock don’t mix. Stay home, filth.


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