Saturday, March 2, 2024

Anti-drugs focus in plan for policing music festivals

TARGETING drug dealers and those involved in either the use or sale of illegal drugs at music festivals in Westmeath continues to be high on the agenda of senior ranking Garda officers managing policing policies, an SPC meeting heard this week.

In his comprehensive update on the Westmeath Divisional Policing Plan 2017 for the festivals, Chief Superintendent Kevin Gralton reviewed the Life Festival and Body and Soul Festival.
“The Life Festival took place at Belvedere House and Gardens, Mullingar, between Friday, 26 May, 2017 and Monday, 29 May 2017,” Chief Superintendent Gralton continued. “The festival had an estimated attendance of 10,000 people and was advertised as an electronic music festival.
“A Policing Plan was prepared in respect of the policing of the event. A strong focus of the plan was the protection of life and property, the prevention and detection of drug offences and the combating of public order offences,” Chief Superintendent Gralton said, adding that while the festival continues to grow in popularity, the associated increase in criminal activity is evident from the figures.
FIGURES AS FOLLOWS
Attendance (Tickets Sold only): – 2015 – 4,200; 2016 – 6,850; 2017 – 9,100. Public Order Offences:-  2015 – 3; 2016 – 2; 2017 – 9. Theft/Criminal Damage: – 2015 – 2; 2016 – 5; 2017 – 6. Assault: – 2015 – 0; 2016 – 1; 2017 – 3. Unauthorised Taking MPV: – 2015 – 0; 2016 – 0; 2017 – 2. Drug Taking: – 2015 – 0; 2016 – 0; 2017 – 2.  DRUGS – Section 3 Misuse of Drugs Act: – 2015 – 121; 2016 – 273; 2017 – 463. Section 15 Misuse of Drugs Act: – 2015 – 11; 2016 – 11; 2017 – 15. Section 21 Misuse of Drugs Act – 2015 – 0; 2016 – 1; 2017 – 0.
BODY AND SOUL
FESTIVAL
“The Body and Soul Music Festival is an annual event staged at Ballinlough Castle, Clonmellon, County Westmeath. The event is held each year around the summer solstice. This year the traffic ran from 23 June to 26 June. A policing plan was put in place for the event to cover the traffic arriving at the event on Friday, the event itself on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and finally traffic leaving the event on the Monday. The event is licensed for an attendance of 15,000 with day tickets sold for the Sunday. This year’s sales indicate that weekend tickets were in the region of 13,500 and day tickets of 1,500,” Chief Superintendent Gralton said.
The comparison in the number of incidents, which Gardai addressed during the festival, are as follows:

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