OVER 35,000 people per day are expected to North Byron Parklands for the 2018 Splendour in the Grass music festival in July.
Tweed-Byron Police will team with Sydney counterparts for mass drug-detection operations at the three day sold out event.
Partygoers can expect constant NSW Police patrols of festival entry gates, at nearby camp sites, and at parking lots. Officers could be accompanied by sniffer dogs trained to detect hundreds of substances – both synthetic and natural.
Police dogs are reguarly re-trained in emerging drugs and can also detect substances being concealed internally.
Here’s what you need to know:
- A police officer can only search a person without a warrant if he/she has ‘reasonable suspicion’ that a person is in possession of prohibited drugs.
- If a police sniffer dog sits next to you it could give police ‘reasonable suspicion’ for a body search, but not for a strip search or an internal search. Furthermore, there is nothing in the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 which states that a police officer can search someone if a drug detection dog has given a positive indication. A leading case on ‘reasonable suspicion’ is R v Rondo (2001) 126 A Crim R 562, which held that there must be “more than a possibility” that a person is in possession of drugs, and that “some factual basis” for that suspicion is shown.
- Police can form that ‘reasonable suspicion’ because of the behaviour of a person, or the reasons why a person came to the attention of police. For example, if a person was seen jumping a fence or exiting a toilet cubicle with a friend and acting suspiciously.
- Police don’t need to form a ‘reasonable suspicion’ if they ask you if they can search you (or strip search you) and you say ‘yes’.
- If you don’t want a strip or internal search, clearly state you do not consent to it but that you will cooperate with all police directions.
- If you have been asked to enter into a tent to ‘cough’ out items inside you, you must know that NSW legislation does have provisions for body cavity searches BUT they can only be carried out by a special medical practitioner.
- If you’ve been given an illegal strip or internal search and evidence has been derived, you should get a lawyer right away.
- Be mindful that police may obtain a warrant which covers the entire festival grounds and surrounding areas so they might have the right to search you without any ‘reasonable suspicion’.
- If you have been charged with a drug offence at the music festival you will be summoned to appear at court in the coming months. You should get a lawyer right away.
- A good criminal lawyer will assess your individual circumstances and build a case strategy to fight to have your charges withdrawn, or for you to have no convictions recorded, with a Section 10 judgement.