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NSW To Roll Out Drug 'Amnesty Bins' At Music Festivals

Festivalgoers will be allowed to throw away their drugs at music festivals instead of being punished, under a NSW government plan to roll out "amnesty bins" at concerts.

The state government has resisted calls to allow pill testing at festivals --instead announcing plans for special bins at concerts where people can throw away their drugs.

The government said people will "have a chance to discard illegal drugs into amnesty bins without fear of prosecution or penalty".  NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the bins would be introduced at events before New Year's Eve, but did not outline specific details about which events would host them, or how exactly the process would work.

Following a coronial inquest into the deaths of six young people who had taken MDMA at music festivals between December 2017 and January 2019, the NSW deputy coroner last month recommended the state allow a pill testing trial this summer -- a suggestion Berejiklian and the government have repeatedly rubbished.

Buried deep in the deputy coroner's recommendations was a call for amnesty bins, saying that "drug harm reduction groups are to be consulted as to where to place those bins to maximise use and minimise harms."

A drug amnesty bin fat the V2004 festival in Essex, England. Image: Getty

"We believe amnesty bins are a good way to increase safety. So that young people if they see police or other activity, don't panic and have the opportunity without any questions asked to throw those pills into the bin," Berejiklian said.

"We believe amnesty bins are a good way to increase safety. So that young people if they see police or other activity, don't panic and have the opportunity without any questions asked to throw those pills into the bin."

Police minister David Elliott said the bins were "an opportunity to discard dangerous substances without fear of prosecution."

"The police will leave you alone if you've decided that you have made a bad decision and that you want to make sure that you don't expose yourself to that sort of dangerous behaviour."

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced a drug amnesty bin program. Image: AAP

The premier said the bins were being rolled out in an attempt to stop people panicking when approached by police officers. Some drug overdoses at music festivals had been linked to people swallowing their drugs in fear of being caught in possession.

"Do not panic if you see police officers, if you see anything that worries you because you've got pills on your person or your friends do, just throw the pill as way, no questions asked. Just don't take them because that can kill you or kill one of your friends," Berejiklian said.

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Despite a trial of pill testing being the chief recommendations of the deputy coroner's report, she said on Wednesday she was "closing the door" on the harm reduction measure.

The deputy coroner also recommended the government "give full and genuine consideration" to "decriminalising personal use of drugs, as a mechanism to reduce the harm caused by drug use" and "expanded regulation of certain currently illicit drugs".

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More to come.