Punters heading to Above & Beyond festival in Sydney this Saturday will be removed from the venue if drug dogs “make an indication” toward them, regardless of whether they actually have drugs or not.
This latest affirmation of NSW Police’s commitment to moving with the times came from Assistant Commissioner Peter Thurtell, in an announcement late on Tuesday.
“Police will exclude any person from the venue that the drug dog indicates has or who has recently had drugs on them, regardless of whether drugs are located," he wrote. “Quite simply, if you handle or use drugs you will not be permitted to remain at the venue."
According to Fairfax reporter Sally Rawsthorne, police have stated they won’t be making arrests, but simply removing people. Keep in mind this would be annoying, as festival tickets come in at $130.
This move from NSW Police comes as the rest of country inches towards legalised drug tests. In April 2018, Australia’s first drugs testing trial was held at Groovin’ the Moo festival in Canberra. There, testers found a unquestionably dangerous sample of bath-salt variety stimulant known as N-Ethylpentylone.
In the past, festivalgoers have died after being approached by sniffer dogs, freaking out, and scoffing their entire stash. No one, however, has died after having their sample analysed and provided with detailed information about any risks they may be facing.
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, who is also behind the party's Sniff Off campaign, told Fairfax that sniffer dogs are notoriously unreliable. “We have known for many years that between two thirds and three quarters of drug dog indications are false positives, where people are not found to be carrying any drugs,” he said.
“It’s hard to see how this kind of action by police could be legal, seeing how it involves punishment in the absence of any offence.”