‘Drugfest’ stuns police sergeant

POLICE say the Manifest music and arts festival should be renamed "Drugfest" after more than 25 allegedly strung out drivers were nabbed while travelling to or from the weekend event.

Allora Police officer-in-charge Des Canning said he was shocked by the sheer volume of drug-driving offences recorded during the three-day event, which was held at - but not organised by - Goomburra's Gordon Country.

"We had at least 25 (alleged) drug drivers and a high percentage of those tested positive to both amphetamines and cannabis," Sergeant Canning said.

"For a low-crime area such as Allora and Goomburra, this is a catastrophic event for crime statistics.

"It's not Manifest, it's Drugfest."

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Sgt Canning, who organised the police operation over the weekend, said officers were called in from all over the region and were assisted by drug dogs and a roadside drug detection unit.

"We are shocked and the road drug detection officers said this is one of the highest percentage of positive roadside results they have ever seen," he said.

"We have been non-stop - it looked like a used car lot out there at Goomburra.

"The organisers and the people who set this up should be absolutely ashamed and should have a good look at how they conduct their business.

"They should also apologise to the general public and road users for allowing this festival to occur in the first place."

Sgt Canning said the strong police presence could very well have prevented a tragedy.

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"If it wasn't for the police doing their job, it is highly likely an innocent person could have been injured or killed," he said.

"There was a minimum 25 people taken off the roads where our families are travelling and there was no thought whatsoever of the danger they put everyone else in - even though we are screaming out about the road toll."

Sgt Canning said months of work went into preparing for the weekend's operation and more manpower was needed to tackle the problem at future festivals.

"The intelligence we have gathered warrants a much greater police presence over a longer period of time - we are looking at 18 hours a day," he said.

Police also charged nine people for possessing drugs; including ecstasy and marijuana, four people for possessing drug utensils, two for unlicensed driving and wrote out more than 30 traffic infringement notices.

Despite the high number of alleged drug offences, no drink-driving charges were laid during the festival.

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