Drug-related incidents failed to mar festivities over the Mardi Gras weekend, and emergency department doctors called it the best year ever.
Police arrested just five people for possession of ecstasy or cannabis throughout the weekend operation, less than half the drug-related arrests over the previous five years. Only one man was charged with supply.
St Vincent’s Emergency Department director Gordian Fulde said fewer arrests and hospital admissions indicated people were out to have fun without being stupid.
“It’s the best Mardi Gras, from an emergency department point of view, I’ve ever experienced by a long shot,” Dr Fulde said.
“The main fallout on the Saturday was basically bystanders who were drinking too much and fell over. There was very little that was attributable to the participants of the Mardi Gras and drug taking.”
With few problems arising during the Harbour Party the previous weekend, Fulde said the signs of problem-free Mardi Gras were already present.
“It’s been going down generally. Usually even the weekend before Mardi Gras, we have a lot of international visitors who want to party,” he said.
“We just didn’t have the same fallout this year that we had last year.”
Fulde praised the efforts of nurses, doctors and volunteers out in the field helping people who may have over-indulged.
“There’s a whole extra net that catches people who may have stumbled,” he said.
“The first few Mardi Gras were disastrous, everybody wasn’t prepared for it, but slowly it’s been building up to a well-oiled organisation.”
In the week prior to the parade and party, police arrested three people in Surry Hills, seizing drugs and cash it is believed were destined for Mardi Gras.
One Pelican St operation found $10,000 in ecstasy tablets and $30,000 in cash. Further operations in Liverpool St uncovered thousands of dollars worth of cocaine, crystal, GHB and cannabis and $10,000 in cash.
“The work of these dedicated officers has smashed an alleged criminal syndicate dealing in illegal drugs and prevented these drugs hitting the streets [Mardi Gras] weekend and in the future,” Assistant Commissioner Catherine Burn said.
“The NSW Police Force has previously said it would target drugs in the lead up to and during a number of Sydney events, including the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and we have done that.
“Our message is simple – don’t take drugs to these events because you’re not only risking your health and well-being, but the likelihood is that you will be caught and face the full extent of the law.”