Po­lice crack­down

Drug use and anti-so­cial be­hav­iour will not be tol­er­ated

Southern Riverina news - - FRONT PAGE -

Thou­sands of mu­sic lovers are set to con­verge on Tocumwal this week­end for the Straw­berry Fields Camp­ing, Life­style and Mu­sic Event.

The event is expected to pro­vide a fan­tas­tic fi­nan­cial boost to the town and wider dis­trict, but ini­tial con­cerns about the event are still res­onat­ing in the community.

NSW and Vic­to­rian Po­lice will be out in force for the week­end, say­ing drug use will be their main fo­cus.

They have is­sued a warn­ing to all ticket hold­ers that drug use and anti-so­cial be­hav­iour will not be tol­er­ated.

Co­bram Po­lice Se­nior Sergeant Garry Bar­ton said while the fes­ti­val mar­kets it­self as a mu­sic, art and camp­ing event, such events are of­ten con­nected to drugs.

His team will tar­get peo­ple cross­ing the bor­der to NSW for the fes­ti­val.

He said they would re­spond ac­cord­ing to the risk to en­sure the safety of road users and pa­trons from the Vic­to­rian side of the bor­der.

‘‘Events like Straw­berry Fields have an es­tab­lished his­tory of risk with pa­trons us­ing and pos­sess­ing drugs,’’ Sen Sgt Bar­ton said.

‘‘The risk lies in their be­hav­iour and then the po­ten­tial for the pa­tron to have drugs in their body whilst driv­ing.

‘‘Vic­to­rian po­lice will be work­ing in con­junc­tion with NSW po­lice to en­sure the event is safe and road users are safe.

‘‘I urge any pa­tron at­tend­ing Straw­berry Fields to con­sider the harm to them­selves and the po­ten­tial harm to oth­ers by il­licit drug use and/or al­co­hol con­sump­tion.’’

Vic­to­ria Po­lice ob­jected to the pro­posal to hold the event ear­lier this year, when a de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion was put to Ber­ri­gan Shire Coun­cil.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion based its ob­jec­tion and con­cerns on pre­vi­ous Straw­berry Fields events held in Mel­bourne.

Res­i­dents also cited safety con­cerns and the im­pact on neigh­bours when com­ment­ing on the plans, but coun­cil ap­proved the event sub­ject to strict safety and traf­fic con­di­tions.

‘‘It is be­lieved that the ben­e­fits of at­tract­ing sig­nif­i­cant vis­i­tors to the re­gion out­weighed the ob­vi­ous im­pacts of the fes­ti­val, par­tic­u­larly on lo­cal prop­erty own­ers,’’ Mayor Bernard Curtin.

About 3000 peo­ple are expected to make their way to Tocumwal for the four day event, which be­gins Fri­day.

The event in­cludes live mu­sic, arts and work­shops, mar­kets, camp­ing and cul­ture.

Or­gan­is­ers say the pa­tron de­mo­graphic is fairly broad but fo­cuses on an equal pro­por­tion of young men and women aged be­tween 18 and 30 years.

For more in­for­ma­tion go to http:/ /straw­berry-fields.com.au/ straw­berry/.

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