So I’ve been kinda quiet (I guess) about an incident that happened to me on Saturday at Hidden in Sydney, but after reading up about it and realising how bad the things that happened to me and plenty of others are, I decided to make a post about it to let other people know that these things aren’t acceptable and if it happens to you that you don’t have to just deal with it.
Firstly I’d like to just let everyone know I was never in contact with any drugs when this happened, I wasn’t intoxicated in any way and I didn’t have anything on my body nor was I acting suspicious in any way. I had only had 1 vodka and coke in the hotel before I left for the festival and I have told the police this.
On Saturday about 10 minutes after I had arrived at the festival and had already been inside and walked past plenty of dogs, me and my boyfriend walked back out of the festival to collect our VIP lanyards as we hadn’t received them, as I was walking back to the entrance gate a police officer walked up to me and quickly told me I had been detected by the sniffer dog despite me never seeing the dog react or sit.
I was taken away by another police officer and was told nothing of what was about to happen, I was never asked for my consent to be searched let alone my consent to be strip searched. Strip searches need to be conducted after being pat down and the officers need to have reasonable suspicion that you have drugs on your person to be able to perform a strip search and they also have to do these searches in private and out of view of officers of the other sex as well as out of view of people who don’t need to see the search (such as other attendees).
This wasn’t the case at hidden over the weekend. Not only did I see other people being searched, during my search the door was left half open and only ‘blocked’ by the small female cop. I could easily see outside which means that attendees and the male cops outside could have easily seen in as well. Not only this, a girl in the cubicle next to me was also searched with her door still open with a couple cops entering and leaving at will.
Also as I have learned, cops CANNOT ask you to squat and cough, this is illegal but police at the hidden festival still were asking for us to do this. After being completely humiliated and embarrassed during my strip search I was allowed to leave and as I was walking out another cop ran up behind me and told the officer I was with that I needed to come back.
The police cannot hold you after not finding anything, but again this wasn’t the case with the operation at hidden. A woman (presumably in charge) started to interrogate me, asking me what I had taken and why the dog had sat next to me and if I had drank any alcohol. I told her I had taken nothing, I had drank 1 vodka and coke in my hotel and that I had no idea why the dog sat. To this she said ‘no that won’t fly here’ and left.
After being held for OVER AN HOUR after them having found 0 drugs or alcohol on my body and the officer telling me I was showing 0 signs of intoxication I was still kicked out of the festival and given a 6 month ban from Sydney Olympic Park. The reason the officer gave me was because they were ‘under the assumption I was intoxicated’. This war on music festivals has gone way too far as I know I wasn’t the only one treated this unfairly.
After walking back out to meet with my boyfriend, he was asking for details of officers so we could complain but the officers instead refused and threatened to kick him out as well. Upon talking to my boyfriend about the incident he had told me he overheard officers targeting specific people, telling other officers with the sniffer dogs to ‘get’ certain people.
A few of my friends were also searched during this operation, but only patted down and then allowed back into the festival so I know there are still good cops out there but they CANNOT pick and choose, some cops are abusing their powers at these festivals and we can’t stand for it.
Me and my family have decided to take this matter further and are currently trying to get in touch with NSW Police Force and if you’ve had the same treatment I’d urge you to do the same.