Hong Kong gigs

Undercover police at Creamfields after spate of drug crimes at Hong Kong music festivals

Police arrested 14 revellers for drug possession at concert last month, while one person died at an electronic music festival in September

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 December, 2017, 8:56pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 December, 2017, 11:13pm

Undercover police will be at one of the world’s largest electronic dance music festivals when it debuts in Hong Kong next week, after drug crimes at similar events in recent months.

It will be the first time plain-clothes police have blended with music goers at the AsiaWorld-Expo, where the two-day Creamfields festival will be held.

A police insider said the heightened vigilance came after police arrested 14 revellers for drug possession at a musical festival last month, while one person died and three tested positive for controlled substances at an electronic music festival in September.

The electronic dance party, celebrating its 20th year, kicks off on Friday evening, featuring huge names in dance music and DJs from around the globe, including Tiësto, Flume, and Above & Beyond.

The indoor party will last from 5pm-3am on both days and is expected to draw 10,000 people.

The police insider said around 50 plain-clothes officers would move among the crowds to watch for illegal drug activities and trouble.

“We saw the potential for drug possession at this event,” the source said. “We also acted in the wake of what happened at Clockenflap and Road to Ultra. We found drugs at both festivals. We will be there this time to curb the risk overdose, sale, distribution or consumption of drugs.”

Sniffer dogs and officers from the Police Tactical Unit and Counter Terrorism Response Unit will also be patrolling outside the venue.

A police spokesman said the force had been closely liaising with the organisers and stakeholders and appealed to young people not expose themselves to dangerous drugs out of curiosity.

Allen Ha Wing-on, CEO of AsiaWorld-Expo, earlier said in a newspaper column that the exhibition facility took a zero-tolerance approach to drug abuse and would work closely with police to combat such crimes.

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All festival goers are required to pass through security measures, which will include bag checks and metal detectors, before entering the event hall. They will also have to wear security wristbands.

“The organiser will also deploy an identity verification protocol, and checks on patrons’ identities will be conducted during admission,” a venue spokeswoman said.

Creamfields was first launched in the UK in 1998 and has become one of the world’s largest electronic dance music festivals.

The festival has also been staged across Europe, in North and South America, and the Middle East.

Two-day admission tickets are priced at HK$1,688, with general admission tickets for single-pass starting from HK$888. A VIP ticket costs HK$3,000.

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Last month, three Europeans were among the 14 revellers arrested for drug possession at Hong Kong’s biggest annual music festival, Clockenflap, as police officers seized cocaine and cannabis in a three-day operation.

In September, a 27-year-old music fan died, and three others, aged 21 to 29, were admitted to hospital during electronic music festival Road to Ultra in West Kowloon. The three tested positive for controlled drugs and police found two bags of ecstasy and the tranquilliser Midazolam.