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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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Sniffer dogs planned at West Cumbria music festival

A number of conditions have been placed on a West Cumbrian music festival so it can go ahead.

CockRock, at Wellington Farm, Cockermouth takes place this year from July 19 to 21.

Police were called to the site 22 times at last year’s event and Cumbria Constabulary asked for a review of this year’s event.

Incidents included assaults, criminal damage and drink driving and Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital reported an increase in people with suspected drug overdoses over that weekend.

Only 10 of the 22 incidents resulted in crime reports being submitted.

Officers met with festival chairman Clint Stamper, who also holds the premises licence.

They agreed the conditions, which were ratified by Allerdale council’s licensing panel on Wednesday.

Extra measures to make sure the event is safe for festival-goers include a sniffer dog to search people entering the main site, a no drugs and Challenge 25 policies to be adopted and it will join the Pubwatch scheme, which would allow organisers to exclude banned members.

A two-man undercover security team will also be on site for a minimum of six hours to target crime and disorder.

At the panel meeting, Councillor Hilary Harrington said: “Some of the incidents reported include two for drink driving and two for health reasons.

“I think the number of incidents for a festival this size is not bad and some of the complaints are immaterial.”

An environmental health assessment also deemed that noise levels at the festival were appropriate, but organisers would be called on the night if it became too loud.

Only people over 18 and holding weekend camping tickets will be allowed to bring alcohol into the campsite areas and will be limited to 50 units.

No-one under 16 will be able to enter the arena unless they are accompanied by someone aged 21 or over.

A 21-year old may accompany a maximum of four people under 16.

After the meeting, Mr Stamper said: “It is all about safety at these events.

“We want to improve things and get those incident levels even lower because we want people to feel safe when they come here and maximise their enjoyment.

“We have had to do more as the festival has grown quite dramatically. It is a big thing for the area attracting bigger headliners and acts which means larger numbers are coming in.

“We welcome things such as the sniffer dogs because it is something we wanted to do and festivals that have grown and become more successful such as Kendal Calling have done the same.

“Generally our incidents are fairly low compared with other festivals across the country and it is a joint effort between ourselves and the local authorities.”

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