‘This is a disgusting abuse of power’
POLICE have slapped festival-goers attending the upcoming Above & Beyond headline event with a tough new crackdown.
NSW Police warned punters that drug detection dogs will be out in full force, stating that they will deny entry to anyone found to have illicit substances on them.
But they also said patrons will be refused entry if a dog detects the presence of prohibited drugs on them - even if no drugs are actually found in a search.
"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.," said South West Metropolitan Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Peter Thurtell.
"Quite simply, if you handle or use drugs you will not be permitted to remain at the venue."
A stream of negative comments have appeared in response to the police announcement, with social media users describing it as "a disgusting abuse of power" and a "waste of resources".
One user argued that a person who's never touched drugs in their life could technically be "punished for the dog's mistake" if they unknowingly brushed past a drug dealer.
After Sydney's Midnight Mafia festival earlier this month - where one woman was allegedly found in possession of almost 1600 MDMA capsules - numerous festival-goers took to social media to say they were denied entry to the event after they were searched by police on their way in, despite having nothing incriminating on them.
A spokeswoman for anti-drug dog campaigners, Sniff Off, said they had received numerous complaints from festival-goers who had also not been allowed entry after they were searched - despite being found to have no drugs on them.
Event organisers Harder Styles United (HSU) issued a statement saying it was "very unhappy" with the operation, and promised a refund to those who were denied entry.
"It is our personal belief that people are innocent until proven guilty," the organisers said in a Facebook statement.