By Luke Henriques-Gomes
The presence of sniffer dogs at music festivals is almost completely ineffective at persuading revellers to abstain from drugs and could place them at greater risk of harm, according to new research that comes after the death of two people at a Sydney dance music festival.
While the New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, faces criticism for again ruling out pill testing, instead vowing to ban the Defqon.1 festival, the paper by researchers Jodie Grigg, Monica Barratt and Simon Lenton brings the effectiveness of the government’s hardline stance into question.
In an anonymous survey of nearly 2,000 festival-goers, the researchers found “almost all … surveyed did not report being deterred from drug usage by the expected presence of drug dogs”.
“Of those who expected dogs to be present at their last festival (647 people), only 4% reported that this threat led them to decide not to take drugs,” the researchers said.
Instead, those surveyed were more likely to better conceal their stash (48%), ask someone else to carry their drugs (15%), or buy substances inside the festival (11%).