Police defend drug arrest field day
- Peter Hackney
- Thursday, 10 January 2013
NSW Police have defended their decision to target partygoers at dance music festival Field Day, after scores of people were arrested for drug offences on New Year’s Day.
153 people were arrested at the popular event in the Domain, when police attached to the Redfern Region Enforcement Squad conducted a covert and overt drug detection operation.
The charges related mainly to drug possession, with partygoers found carrying small amounts of cannabis, amphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy, LSD and crystal meth. Two attendees with larger quantities of drugs were charged with supply offences.
A further 68 people were ejected from the festival for being too intoxicated, while two people were issued with criminal infringement notices for alleged offensive behaviour.
This year’s drug blitz was the biggest so far at the popular annual event, which has arguably become a field day for police seeking to fulfil arrest quotas.
A total of 112 people were charged with drug offences at Field Day last year, while 111 were arrested in 2011, 83 people in 2010 and 59 in 2009.
However, police defended the ever-increasing drug arrests.
“We arrested 42 more people this year for drug-related offences than 2012, which shows that some attendees are not getting the message,” said Redfern Region Enforcement Squad Commander, Chief Inspector Stuart Bell.
“We will not take our eye off the ball when it comes to our fight against drugs, alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour, particularly at music festivals.
“We will continue to run these operations to ensure music-lovers can attend festivals and enjoy themselves in a safe, drug-free environment.”
However, not all partygoers appreciated the police actions.
“It was a bit over-the-top and excessive,” said Field Day 2013 attendee, Louise Marginson.
“Having drug dogs everywhere and police taking people off to the side for strip searches gave it a bit of a menacing atmosphere.”
Ms Marginson questioned the wisdom of pitting police resources against partygoers.
“I’ve had two occasions in my life where I’ve needed to contact police, after an assault and when my car was stolen – both times they did absolutely nothing. They never followed up with me, I always had to call them, and when I asked why I was told they’re under-resourced,” she said.
“But they can have police everywhere at Field Day where it’s easy pickings, no-one’s hurting anyone and there’s nothing to do except bust people carrying ‘eccies’.”
Another partygoer, who wanted to be identified only by his first name David, said: “There’s something wrong when people who only want to get a bit stoned or happy are getting criminal convictions which will stay with them their entire lives.
“How about arresting criminals instead of people who aren’t hurting anyone else?”
Field Day organisers, Fuzzy Events, chose not to comment.
In related news, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell says strong winds were to blame for noise issues with this year’s Field Day, which sparked complaints from residents of Sydney’s Lower North Shore.
Mr O’Farrell said the Royal Botanic Gardens Trust, which administers the site, had done the appropriate noise checks and had met requirements.
The issue was the south-westerly winds that came through later, he said.
“It appears as though the noise travelled much
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