National

NSW cops hit back at coroner’s criticism

By AAP Newswire

NSW's top cop has come out swinging after a coroner suggested the way police patrol music festivals could increase the risk revellers will suffer "serious illness or fatality" from drug use.

Deputy state coroner Harriet Grahame on Friday handed down her findings after examining six MDMA-related deaths at NSW music festivals.

Ms Grahame said there was "significant evidence" that intensive and punitive policing targeting drug users and low-level dealers increased - rather than decreased - drug-related harm.

The coroner recommended NSW Police ditch drug-detection dogs because they could lead to panic ingestion, double dosing and pre-loading.

Strip-searches should only be used if an officer suspected a festival-goer of supplying drugs rather than merely possessing them, Ms Grahame added.

But police commissioner Mick Fuller disputed his force's methods could be making the situation worse rather than better.

"It is truly tragic for these and many other young lives to have been cut short due to drugs," Mr Fuller said in a statement on Friday.

"However, any suggestion police were implicit in these deaths will be strongly defended by me."

Mr Fuller said NSW Police remain committed to reducing the supply of illicit drugs across the state including at music festivals.

"The community cannot ignore the fact that music festivals create a concentrated market for drug supply and organised criminal groups," he said.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian reiterated that her government wouldn't be introducing pill testing which was one of the key recommendations in Ms Grahame's 180-page report.

"We have a strong view that pill testing is not the way," the premier said.

"There are lots of (other) ways in which we can, of course, improve safety, reduce risk of death or harm for young people and there are certainly opportunities for us to look at that."

NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay on Friday reaffirmed her support for a limited pill testing trial at festivals.

"Gladys Berejiklian is burying her head in the sand when it comes to broaching the reality of drug use in Australia," the opposition leader said in a statement.

"It is deeply frustrating that the premier refuses to explore heartfelt and informed suggestions."

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann says the ball is now well and truly in the premier's court.

"She can do what is necessary to save lives this summer and introduce pill testing - or she can ignore the coroner's findings," Ms Faehrmann told reporters.

"Let's recognise that people will always take drugs (and) let's make sure they don't die from them."

The Australian Lawyers Alliance says using sniffer dogs to make arrests at festivals isn't productive.

"Young people are then shunted through the court system - or worse they are injured or die in their panic to avoid arrest," alliance spokesman Greg Barns said in a statement.