GARDAÍ are satisfied that drugs are not a major problem at Electric Picnic. Newly appointed Portlaoise Superintendent Yvonne London said that Gardaí have learned and will continue to learn from previous events.
“Without going into details, we have adopted some procedures that we haven’t used before, but the ratios speak for themselves”. Out of the 35,000 stong crowd that attends the Stradbally festival, between 300 and 350 people have been arrested each year under the Misuse of Drugs act. “We have changed some operational tactics this year but we are satisfied that there isn’t a huge drugs problem at the event”.
Superintendent Lundon added that any breaches of legislation of the Misuse of Drugs act will be dealt with. “We have a contingency plan to deal with drug abuse. We are quite anxious to ensure that nothing disrupts the event”. She emphasised that Electric Picnic is a local event and assured people in Stradbally that business will continue as usual throughout the weekend.
John Reynolds of EP Republic Ltd who run the event said that he was confident the festival has adequate levels of Gardaí. Throughout the weekend there will be 125 Gardaí, a Garda station and a hospital on site every day. There will also be 968 security on site which organisers said is not an increase.
Mr Reynolds said that he was confident a repeat of the Swedish House Mafia gig would not happen at this year’s EP. “It is not comparing like with like. For nine years we have had a great relationship with the Gardaí. It is family orientated and we don’t take our eye off the ball. Levels of Gardaí are adequate and it is a totally different type of audience”.
Mr Reynolds also added that organisers are not expecting an Oxegen crowd at the Picnic, judging by Facebook feedback and ticketsales. “The Oxegen audience is 18 to 21 years old, it is a totally different dynamic”. When asked whether the sale of cheap alcohol was a factor at the Phoenix park concert, Mr Reynolds said that many factors could have caused the problems.
“Everybody has different opinions of what the causes are, but people have to take responsibility for their own actions. many factors can cause a situation and it can’t always be passed off to the promoter, the Gardaí or the council. There is an older, respectful audience at the Picnic and there is a very good relationship on site”.
As well as security and Gardaí, there will also be a customer care team monitoring the campsites, and organisers are expecting a similar crowd and audience numbers to last year. Inspector Martin Harrington stated that the EP audience is mature and well behaved. “It is an easy event to police but we have contingency plans similar to other years”.