Norwegian police have arrested around 80 people at music festivals during the past week, all of them on charges of narcotics possession. Police think the actual number of music fans combining festivals with drug use is much higher.
“There are lots of people at these music festivals, and we can’t be everywhere,” Frank Gran of the Tønsberg Police told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).
He and police colleagues elsewhere around Norway are defying criticism of their methods and cracking down on narcotics offenses at the festivals. Gran said hash and marijuana are the drugs most often seized, “but unfortunately we’re seeing use of GHB and cocaine, and that worries us.”
Two arrests were made at the Midnattsrocken festival in Lakselv in Finnmark, 29 at the Stavernfestivalen and 55 at the Midnight Sun festival on the island of Værøy in Lofoten. Gran and his colleagues are now bracing for the roughly 12,000 people expected at the annual Slottsfjell festivalen in Tønsberg that begins on Wednesday.
Slottsfjell is one of six festivals that also has attracted researchers from the Norwegian public health institute Folkehelseinstituttet. They want to test concert-goers for drugs and alcohol and question them about their use at festivals. They have visited one festival already and reported surprisingly cooperative members of the audience.
“Folks thought it was exciting,” said project leader Linn Gjersing of the health institute. “We thought the spit tests (for drugs) would scare people off, but they thought it was interesting. It was a very good atmosphere.” Results of the surveys of drug and alcohol use are due next spring.