Festival deaths inquest calls for drug use to be decriminalised


Deputy state coroner Harriet Grahame probed the deaths of six people aged between 18 and 23 at events in the state over two years.

Delivering her findings this morning, Ms Grahame called for sweeping reforms, including sanctioned pill testing at festivals based on the “compelling” evidence that it would boost safety and could encourage “behavioural change” among recreational drug users.

“Drug checking is simply an evidence-based harm reduction strategy that should be trialled as soon as possible in NSW,” Ms Grahame said.

The NSW Government has repeatedly resisted calls to allow drug testing at music festivals in the wake of numerous deaths.Source:News Corp Australia

She also called for personal drug use to be decriminalised, in a recommendation that’s likely to spark controversy, “as a mechanism to reduce the harm caused by drug use”.

Ms Grahame also criticised increasingly heavy policing at public events, and specifically the use of drug sniffer dogs – a practice that has come under significant scrutiny in recent weeks.

It has been revealed the number of strip searches based on drug dog detections has skyrocketed, despite a very high rate of false-positive tests.

Parents of young people who died at music festivals speak outside the Coroner’s Court of New South Wales. Picture: AAP

Parents of young people who died at music festivals speak outside the Coroner’s Court of New South Wales. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

It has also emerged that police officers have conducted strip searches on young teenagers and even children as young as 11.

Such heavy handed policing presented “inherent dangers and few, if any benefits” to public safety, Ms Grahame concluded.

More to come



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