Drugged footy fans at the MCG are the target of a new police initiative to crack down on substance abuse at sporting games.
Victorian police are considering implementing sniffer dogs at the popular stadium to minimise drug-fuelled violence and poor behaviour.
The problem was flagged by the MCG trust in its annual report, where they highlighted the increase in violent offences from drug users at the venue.
Former Victorian premier and MCG Trust chairman Steve Bracks said that those under the influence of illicit substances were scaring punters.
“The impact on patrons in the vicinity can be significant — at best unpleasant, sometimes frightening and, on occasions, dangerous,” Bracks said in the report.
“Often poor behaviours are influenced by the use of illicit drugs which are very hard to detect in our screening procedures.”
Victoria Police will consider using drug-sniffer dogs if the problem continues to get worse. This follows in the footsteps of NSW Police, who have used sniffer dogs at train stations, TABs and venues to minimise the amount of punters walking around with drugs at sporting events.
“One of those options includes Passive Alert Detector (PAD) dogs, which are a highly effective tool for police, but they are just one tool that we use,” Victoria Police said. “PAD dogs are deployed on the basis of intelligence to ensure they are targeting the right areas at the right time.”
“The increasing use of illicit drugs at major events and sporting matches is reflective of the broader community’s behaviours, and attitude towards illicit drugs,” Victoria Police Commander Tim Hansen said.
While Hansen admitted that a vast majority of punters do the right thing, he noted that the small percentage that ruin it for the rest of us often have “a ripple effect across the community.”
However, the AFL Fans Associations remains adamant that alcohol is the major cause of bad behaviour among punters.
“Footy’s reflective of society – if drugs are a problem in society, then they’re going to be a problem when you’ve got 90,000 members of that society in one place,” Fans Association president Gerry Eeman said. “However, the overwhelming problem with footy violence is the over-consumption of alcohol.”
“We haven’t had complaints of drugs at the footy, but we’ve had lots of complaints about people being drunk and aggressive at the footy.”
Hopefully whatever Victoria Police choose to do helps eradicate fans making other fans uncomfortable at the footy. Can we all just enjoy the game? I sure hope so.