Police think that Victoria’s Rainbow Serpent Festival should be shorter after a number of incidents this year including the death of a 22 year-old man.
Jacob Langford died from cardiac arrest after reportedly drinking amyl nitrite. After the event police suggested that, “organised criminals are infiltrating this event to prey on young people.”
As The Age reports, police are now saying that the festival poses an “extreme” safety risk and are calling for organisers to cut down its five day duration.
Ballarat’s Superintendent Andrew Allen said the festival was a risk to other drivers surrounding the area. There were reportedly four road crashes associated to the event and one in eight drivers tested randomly for drugs returned a positive result.
Allen will, “categorically be agitating for a reduction in the length of the festival,” as he believes, “this elevated rate of positive tests from the event is completely unacceptable and something has to change.”
“More responsibility must come from the festival organisers in relation to the impact this has on the community.”
The family of Langford spoke out after his death echoing police’s sentiments.
“The festival goes way too long without affordable food and drink. With that much heat and dehydration, it does not equal a safe environment,” the Langfords told the Herald Sun.
Festival organiser Tim Harvey believes, however, that the festival should be lengthened so that punters can recover from partying before travelling home.
Organisers issued a statement on Facebook after the festival calling the police’s response, “frustrating and hypocritical.”
“Rainbow Serpent Festival runs for six days and this year we had close to 20,000 exceptionally well-behaved people attend. However, like every other community of 20,000 people, a small minority participate in risk taking behaviour,” they wrote.
“Statistics obtained after last year’s festival show the targeted three-day police roadside operation outside the 2016 event recorded a drug driving rate below the state average. Last year one in 20 drivers outside Rainbow tested positive compared to the annual state average of one in 15 and while we believe one positive test is too many, it’s been made abundantly clear that music festivals are easy headlines for senior police officers with political agendas.”