Victorian police have hit up Listen Out punters on social media this morning to send a clear warning about their drug crackdown, ahead of the first leg of the touring festival hitting Melbourne this weekend.
Port Phillip Police commander Inspector Jason Kelly began the Facebook Live video stream by warning attendees who are planning to bring illegal substances to the festival that “Victoria Police has resourced extensively to ensure the safety of the public [and] the local community” – so in other words, if you try to sneak drugs in, you have a very high chance of being caught.
The police pressure is mounting after the death of a 27-year-old woman at the Melbourne leg of the 2016 Listen Out of a suspected drug overdose, and while police explained to the Herald Sun recently that low-level offenders found with a small amount of drugs may be offered the chance to avoid a conviction through a drug diversion program, harsher penalties than ever will be administered for anybody caught dealing.
“Last year unfortunately we had the death of a young lady so … we’ll be increasing our resources around the event,” Insp. Kelly told the paper. “We’ll be out in force with (drug dogs), and we’ll have plain clothes police, detectives, uniform members, our mounted branch and other resources deployed.”
“Anyone caught with a trafficable amount of drugs will be prosecuted and put before the courts,” he added. “We will arrest those in possession of and using drugs but certainly a key focus will be to identify and detect those trafficking drugs to festival goers at the venue.”
It’s not empty posturing, either. Although police praised the overall behaviour of the 25,000 attendees at last year’s sold-out Listen Out Sydney at Centennial Parklands, 116 were arrested for drug possession, and a further 13 with drug supply, after the riot squad, mounted unit and sniffer dogs all headed along to police the site.
It’s indicative of a broader police crackdown on music festivals, too, including 24,000-strong Penrith EDM festival Defqon.1 last weekend, which saw a 22-year-old man arrested for the possession of almost 400 MDMA pills, together with 44 other drug-related arrests.
The message from police fight for anyone planning on taking or selling drugs at festivals this summer is simple: don’t say we didn’t warn you.