NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller refuses to consider implementing pill testing at NSW music festivals. (Photo: NSW Police)

Evidence pointing towards pill testing “compelling”: NSW Coroner

The NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has categorically rejected the suggestion of introducing pill testing at music festivals, following recommendations by the deputy NSW coroner Harriet Grahame.

On Friday Ms Grahame released her findings of the inquest into the deaths of six young people at NSW music festivals between December 2017 and January 2019, whereby she advised NSW Police and the state government to introduce pill testing and remove excessive law enforcement tactics, including sniffer dogs, at such events.

“I am of the firm view that there is sound evidence that high-visibility policing and use of drug detection dogs at music festivals is a harmful intervention,” Ms Grahame said.

Strip-searches should also be limited to those who are suspected of selling drugs, not those who are consuming drugs recreationally, according to the deputy coroner.

Following the pill testing trial performed at Canberra festival, Groovin’ the Moo, Ms Grahame believes there is “no evidence…to suggest that the ACT method would not work in NSW.”

“Drug checking would seem to fall squarely within the government’s harm reduction policy framework and requires close consideration. The court heard extensive evidence about this practice which operates in numerous countries worldwide.

“It is clear from the academic literature on this subject and the number of media reports available that the Australian public has a genuine interest in understanding this issue,” Ms Grahame continued.

Festival-goers at one of the most popular live music events in the world, Tomorrowland.

These recommendations and findings, however, have been met with a blatant refusal from those Ms Grahame was targeting.

“Pill testing provides a false confidence to an individual that the drug they want to take is safe. There is no such thing. All illegal substances carry the risk of harming, or ultimately killing, the user,” Commissioner Fuller said in a statement.

“At present, the technology does not allow for adequate identification of dose levels or small traces of highly toxic substances. The testing method, in which only a small portion of a pill is tested, is also an inaccurate reflection of the composition of the entire pill.

“These are some of the critical flaws in proposals to test pills at dance parties and music festivals, and as such, any such proposal will not be supported by me,” he continued.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, is also profusely public with her opposing stance on pill testing.

Speaking to Seven’s Sunrise in October following the leak of the coroner’s draft report, Ms Berejiklian said: “There’s no way to take an illicit drug safely.

“Even if the pill test said this is pure ecstasy or pure MDMA, it doesn’t mean it’s still going to keep you safe, you can still die by taking that,” she said.