‘Unacceptable’: Drugs, sex assaults taint festival
RAINBOW Serpent music festival has again been marred by sexual assaults, drug trafficking and suspected overdoses.
The final drug trafficking and possession arrest figures were released today as the festival's organisers hit out at 30 years of "failed drugs policy".
Superintendent Jenny Wilson said it was concerning to see so many people making dangerous choices at the five-day festival, despite repeated warnings from police.
Police arrested 10 revellers for drug trafficking, 16 tested positive for drug driving and 54 people were given cautions or diversions for drug possession.
Many people caught with drugs had more than one type of substance on them, including ketamine, cocaine, LSD and MDMA.
Police also responded to three crashes, including a fatal incident involving a 19-year-old woman on route to the festival, two sexual assaults and two assaults.
Supt Wilson labelled high-risk illicit drug consumption and dealing "completely unacceptable".
"There is no such thing as a safe illicit drug, yet we have a number of people willing to profit off others while putting them at risk," she said.
"Every year police deal with serious crimes such as sexual assaults and drug trafficking at this event.
"This kind of behaviour puts a lot of people at risk and is completely unacceptable."
Additional police resources were called in to work around the clock in an effort to keep revellers safe at the festival, which has a chequered history of fatal drug overdoses and sexual assaults.
"We want people to come to this event and enjoy it for what it is - a celebration of culture, music and arts," Supt Wilson said.
"However, the behaviour of some individuals shows that there are still some people out there willing to put themselves and others at huge risk."
Festival spokesman Tim Harvey denied Rainbow Serpent attracted more drug risk-takers than other events and blamed authorities for creating a "very difficult drug landscape".
"The issue is created by 30 years of failed drugs policy, and we're still waiting for governments to catch up," Mr Harvey told ABC radio's Jon Faine.
"We are the people trying to do our best to meet these challenges and we are waiting for governments and other organisations to get on board with this rather than continuing the same zero-tolerance message that has caused the problem we face at the moment," he said.
The festival, which was held 161km north west of Melbourne in Lexton, began on Friday.