Police sniffer dogs at the enterance of Splendour In The Grass.
Police sniffer dogs at the enterance of Splendour In The Grass. Patrick Gorbunovs

Festival gate-crashers drive up crime in the Tweed

FESTIVAL gate-crashers and drug users are driving up crime numbers in the Tweed as new data reveals a spike in drug and trespass offences.

According to figures released by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research last week, trespass offences grew 20 per cent in the past five years, from 76 offences in 2011 to a whopping 269 in 2016.

A further 161 offences were recorded in 2017.

Tweed Byron District Superintendent Wayne Starling said the rise was likely due to gate-crashers jumping the fence at music festivals such as Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival.

"We're policing more and more festivals as they come and arresting more people, including fence jumpers, which would explain the rise in trespass offences,” Supt Starling said.

Police issued 65 criminal infringement notices to alleged trespassers who entered Splendour in the Grass without valid tickets last year, while 267 people were caught with drugs.

More than 20 people were also arrested after trying to jump the fence at Falls Festival on New Year's Eve, with 27 arrested for drugs.

Drug offences such as possession and or use of amphetamines have risen by 8.8 per cent in five years, while ecstasy possession has sky-rocketed nearly 200 per cent from 86 offences in 2011 to 256 in 2017. An eight per cent rise in resisting or hindering officers could also be explained by the rise in drug use, Supt Starling said.

"We're detecting a lot of drugs at festivals or people going in to festivals, and targeting offences at drug locations in an attempt to reduce it,” he said.

"We've had a bad run with drug offences where people are violent towards police as a result of the drugs they're on, and that would have a marked increase.”

Offensive conduct has also gone up 17.3%, which often includes swearing in public, skinny dipping and being under the influence of alcohol. Receiving or handling stolen goods also went up 13.2%.

But it's not all bad news.

Cultivating cannabis has dropped 12.9 per cent over five years, which police say is due to targeting more harmful drugs such as methamphetamine or "ice”.

Break and enter in houses dropped 9.4 per cent, while B&Es at non-dwellings was down 21.4 per cent.

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