Police allegedly breaking rules to strip search at festivals
IT WAS just supposed to be a day of dancing and fun with her mates, but Newcastle music-lover Lucy Moore ended up being punished as if she was a criminal.
The 19-year-old exercise and sport science student made the lengthy journey down to the big city for Hidden - an electronic music and hip hop festival held at the Sydney Showground on Saturday.
It was only the third festival she had ever been to, but it ended up being an experience she would remember for all the wrong reasons.
Describing her story of humiliation at the hands of NSW Police officers that followed, she wrote on Facebook that she only had one vodka and coke in the hotel before leaving for the festival.
But her nightmare began just ten minutes after arriving at the popular event.
"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," she said.
She added that she had already walked past "plenty of dogs" on her way into the festival, and none of them had budged.
"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," she wrote.
As far as she understood it, strip searches are only permitted after being patted down, there's reasonable suspicion that you have drugs and the search is conducted in private - out of view of officers of the other sex and people who don't need to see the search.
However, she said this clearly wasn't the case at Hidden - as she was taken aside for an embarrassing strip search.
"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," she wrote. "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."
Even after the search, which found nothing and left her "humiliated and embarrassed", Ms Moore said she was then chased by a cop after being let go.
She said the officer started to interrogate her - asking what she had taken and why the dog had sat next to her.
"I told her I had taken nothing, I had drank one vodka and coke in my hotel and that I had no idea why the dog sat," Ms Moore wrote. "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? Officers were reportedly "under the assumption" Ms Moore was intoxicated.
Her story has now gone viral on social media, prompting more than 11,000, mostly angry, reactions and racking up almost 3000 comments.
Ms Moore told news.com.au she was glad she spoke out about her experience - adding she wrote 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".
"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," she wrote.
Ms Moore said she is now taking the matter further and are trying to get in touch with NSW Police Force.
It's not the first time festivalgoers in NSW have spoken out - saying they've been unfairly banned from events due to a sniffer dog false flag.
Greens MP David Shoebridge told news.com.au the tactic to ban these festivalgoers from the Olympic Precinct for six months is an "appalling attack on civil liberties".
"We have known for over a decade, that these dogs get it wrong up to 75 per cent of the time," he said. "But, up until now, people haven't been punished for them getting it wrong."