Po­lice stats drop

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

Drug re­lated of­fences de­tected by NSW Po­lice and Vic­to­rian Po­lice dur­ing Op­er­a­tion Straw­berry Fields have dropped com­pared to last year, but are still too high ac­cord­ing to one of the re­gion’s top po­lice of­fi­cers.

NSW Po­lice Mur­ray River Po­lice In­spec­tor Paul Huggett con­firmed there was a re­duc­tion in drug de­tec­tions from last year, de­spite the crowd in­creas­ing from 6500 to 800 year-on-year.

Insp Huggett said NSW Po­lice fig­ures show 45 driv­ers were de­tected with drugs be­tween Thurs­day and Mon­day, which is 25 lower than last year.

He said 17 peo­ple were ar­rested as part of

the op­er­a­tion, 14 oth­ers charged and two oth­ers charged with drink driv­ing.

Six cau­tions and 19 in­fringe­ment no­tices were is­sued, and 36 Field Court At­ten­dance no­ticed we handed down.

Mean­while, Vic­to­rian Po­lice de­tected 60 driv­ers with drugs in their sys­tem, 12 lower than 2017.

Insp Huggett said the sheer size of the event raises some con­cerns for po­lice, but he did say over­all be­hav­iour was good.

‘‘It’s a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of peo­ple, but there were no ma­jor in­ci­dents or acts of vi­o­lence at the site to re­port.’’

Straw­berry Fields fes­ti­val-goers were faced with a large po­lice pres­ence sur­round­ing the fes­ti­val site.

Po­lice set up a road­block in Koonoomoo, with drug bus staff, po­lice mem­bers and High­way Pa­trol of­fi­cers mak­ing sure peo­ple were safe to drive from the event.

Dozens of po­lice were on a side road, across from The Big Straw­berry, breath and drug test­ing driv­ers, us­ing num­ber plate recog­ni­tion and mak­ing sure ve­hi­cles were road­wor­thy.

‘‘Our aim is to re­duce road fa­tal­i­ties and make it a safer en­vi­ron­ment for other road users,’’ Co­bram po­lice Sergeant David Young said.

‘‘Any of­fence is too many, so we’re re­ally try­ing to get through to the mo­torists that it’s fan­tas­tic to go out and en­joy your­self but

also be safe when you’re try­ing to get home.’’

On the fi­nal day of the op­er­a­tion in Vic­to­ria, eight peo­ple were caught drink driv­ing while about 400 driv­ers were caught for other traf­fic of­fences in Vic­to­ria.

Straw­berry Fields man­age­ment thanked both Vic­to­rian and NSW po­lice for their ef­forts over the week­end.

‘‘Both the road op­er­a­tion and the user pays pres­ence within the event are im­por­tant for pro­tect­ing the safety of our pa­trons and broader com­mu­nity,’’ Straw­berry Fields Fes­ti­val Di­rec­tor Tara Ben­ney said.

“While we are al­ways dis­ap­pointed to see some pa­trons make poor de­ci­sions, we are pleased to see the statistics down rel­a­tive to the over­all ca­pac­ity of the event,’’ she said.

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