A would-be attendee of Above & Beyond over the long weekend was reportedly barred entry to the Sydney headline spot, and banned from the venue for six months, after NSW Police searched him for drugs – and found nothing.
The gig has been the site of controversy since the cops announced last week that they would be denying entry to any punters identified by sniffer dogs, whether they were found to be in possession of illicit substances or not.
The police said that the dogs had the power to detect even the trace of drugs – the scent of yesterday’s J on a jumper for example, or white powdery residue on a credit card – and that would be grounds to refuse someone entry to a festival they paid over a hundo for.
The backlash was swift – but it didn’t stop NSW Police from following through with their draconian plan, at least according to David Shoebridge, the Greens MP leading efforts to have drug detection dogs ‘sniff off’.
On the Sniff Off Facebook page, Shoebridge and co shared an image of a six-month Sydney Olympic Park ban notice, allegedly issued to a would-be attendee after a fruitless drug search. The shot’s been shared a further 528 times, with people on social crying foul of the excessive punishment
Last night, a number of people were refused entry to Above and Beyond after being searched by police and having no drugs…
Police dispute this version of events, telling News.com.au that the punter was issued the notice due to “bad behaviour“, alleging that he didn’t even have a ticket to the event.
A spokesperson for Sniff Off says she spoke to the bloke in question not long after the altercation, and had been told that he and his four mates were arguing with police conducting the strip search, after which he was issued the notice.
Shoebridge has since told News.com.au that five other would-be attendees have contacted his office, complaining that they were refused entry or kicked out after being approached by drug detection dogs, but not found in possession of illicit drugs.
In a media release on Sunday, Shoebridge called the actions of police “a serious abuse of police powers“, and said that Sniff Off that the campaign would be taking festival-goers grievances – and video footage of encounters with police – to their lawyers, to see if it would be possible to mount a court case against the police.
POLICE DRUG DOGS GO ABOVE AND BEYOND THE LAWMEDIA RELEASEPolice drug dogs have been used to prevent people from…
As of today, no official police figures have been released sharing the amount of drug-related arrests at Above & Beyond – but 13 were ejected from the venue for drunkenness.
Speaking to ABC‘s Hack last week, the promoter for the show, Richie McNeill, said that they would offer full refunds to ticket-holders turned away because of false drug-dog positives.Source: News.com.au
Image: Getty Images / Mark Metcalfe