In a move that’s been a long time coming, today Greens member for Newtown Jenny Leong gave notice of a bill to end the use of drug detection dogs without a warrant on public transport, at festivals, bars, and Kings Cross.
Titlted the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Amendment (Sniffer Dogs—Repeal of Powers) Bill 2015, the bill aims to repeal parts of the Law Enforcement Powers and Responsibilities Act 2002 relating to the use of drug detection dogs.
The Bill is the latest move in the Greens NSW’s “Sniff Off” campaign, which aims to put an end to the use of drug dogs. The campaign has received support from numerous musicians and performers, including Paul Mac and Dan McNamee from Arts Vs Science.
“The evidence is in: the drug dogs program doesn’t work. The NSW police have better things to do than wrongly humiliating thousands of mainly young and marginalised people,” said Ms Leong in a statement to the press.
“If you are at Redfern Station, you are 6.5 times more likely to be searched than at Central Station. But Redfern has the highest false-positive rate of any Local Area Command. This isn’t evidence-based policing. So what’s it about?”
“Drug policy and policing needs to be evidence-based and focussed on protecting the needs of the community. This means a harm minimisation approach to drugs, not abusing people’s rights.”
“When a police drug dog indicates somebody possesses drugs, the fact is they are getting it wrong between two thirds and three quarters of the time,” added Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge.
“Despite drug dogs being wrong most of the time, thousands of people on public transport, at bars and festivals are subjected to humiliating public searches each year. Even when police do find drugs, it is usually a small amount for personal consumption. Only 2% of searches result in a supply conviction.”
“The drug dog regime does not target high-level drug dealers or suppliers. It targets young people, the poor and Aboriginal communities,” Mr Shoebridge said. Meanwhile, Paul Mac, who will perform at a Sniff Off Party this Saturday, 30th May at the Red Rattler in Marrickville, gave his two cents as well.
“I think the use of sniffer dogs is an invasion of personal liberties. Nobody should be expected to undergo a strip search in order to enter a dance party or a music festival,” he said. “Sniffer dogs are an aggressive way for the police force to talk to the public about drug use, of any kind.”
“So many police resources are wasted enforcing this policy which could be spent out on the street preventing violent crimes,” he added. Mac’s comments echo the sentiments of many in the community who feel that sniffer dogs are an ineffective and potentially dangerous way to police drug crime.
Furthermore, several studies by respected think tanks and findings by the NSW Ombudsman have concluded that sniffer dog operations simply don’t do what they’re purported to and can in fact pose a risk to young revellers.
The controversy surrounding the practice recently inspired Aussie YouTuber and comedian Friendlyjordies to put together a hilarious and shrewd video dissecting the debate and explaining why sniffer dogs at festivals are a bad, bad idea. Check it out below.