The NSW Greens are leading a push to end the use of drug detection dogs without a warrant on public transport, at festivals, bars and in Kings Cross in Sydney.
The dogs were used extensively at the recent Mardi Grass in Nimbin, and are a common sight at north coast music festivals and around the region’s bars.
Today in Sydney, Greens MP for Newtown Jenny Leong and Greens Justice spokesperson David Shoebridge have joined with musicians Paul Mac and Dan McNamee (Arts V Science) to launch a bill aimed at ending the use of drug detection dogs.
Musician Paul Mac said the use of sniffer dogs was ‘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,’ Mr Mac 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.’
Greens MP and justice spokesperson David Shoebridge said police dogs were getting it wrong between two thirds and three quarters of the time.
‘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 per cent 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 the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Amendment (Sniffer Dogs—Repeal of Powers) Bill 2015 aimed to repeal parts of the Law Enforcement Powers and Responsibilities Act 2002 relating to the use of drug detection dogs.
He said the Bill was the latest part of the Greens NSW ‘Sniff Off’ campaign against the use of drug dogs.
Nimbin Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone has argued previously that the use of drug detection dogs was leading young people to use drugs other than cannabis that could not be detected by the dogs.