Give Up The Ghost, Gladys: Coroner Recommends Pill Testing & Axing Of Sniffer Dogs

8 November 2019 | 12:44 pm | Staff Writer

"The evidence arising from this inquest clearly indicates there is much that can be done to prevent MDMA deaths."

A NSW coroner has recommended that Government implement pill testing at music festivals across the state, as well as cease the use of sniffer dogs. 

As ABC reports, deputy state coroner Harriet Grahame conducted the report following six drug-related deaths at music festivals and as per a leaked report last month, Grahame has encouraged the introduction of pill testing given the "compelling" evidence of its effectiveness. 

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

Grahame said there is also evidence to suggest that sniffer dogs and increased police operations at festivals had "inherent dangers and few if any benefits".

"The evidence arising from this inquest clearly indicates there is much that can be done to prevent MDMA deaths," Grahame said.

"There are practical solutions to some of the issues identified."

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The recommendations come after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian refused to budge on the Government's opposition to pill testing after the leaked report, saying at the time, "We will not go down that path because we feel very strongly that it sends a wrong message.

"It actually gives people a false sense of security because how one person reacts to a drug is very different to another person reacting and unfortunately we have seen people lose their lives by taking what is a pure substance, a pure drug."

Speaking to The Music last month, CEO of Ted Noffs Foundation, Matt Noffs, who was instrumental in two pill testing pilots at Groovin The Moo in Canberra in recent years, supported the coroner's recommendations.

"[Pill testing] should be about young people getting access to that information first and foremost," Noffs said.

"I support police being at festivals. I support them there in a transformed role where they're there to help young people when they get into trouble. Not to strip search them, not to arrest them. I don't support that.

"Any dilution of pill testing any way that hands more power to police, then I really think we're going to get into trouble."