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Byron Shire
June 21, 2021

New figures reveal ‘woeful results’ of drug dog program

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Use of police drug sniffer dogs has become a controversial issue. Photo digitaldeconstruction.com

Data obtained by the Greens shows the continued failure of the drug dog program with false positive outstripping ‘successful’ searches two to one.

Even when intrusive strip searches are carried out, which can involve peering into people’s body cavities and requiring them to squat, a remarkable 64 per cent of searches are false positives where nothing is found.

Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said it was ‘plain wrong that well over 1,000 people were strip searched last year – and that means seriously humiliated – based on the error-ridden opinion of a police dog’.

‘Worse still two thirds of the people strip searched as a result of drug dog indications had no drugs on them,’ he said.

Souring relationship with police

‘That’s hundreds of mainly young people who have had their rights abused and their relationship with police soured.

‘Any other government program that gets it wrong three quarters of the time would be immediately halted.

‘We know from the strong support we get for the Sniff Off campaign, which has over 40,000 followers, that the community wants a far more sensible and balanced position on drugs.

‘Following the police overreach at recent music festivals like Above and Beyond and Midnight Mafia, there’s a growing awareness in the community about just how damaging the drug dog program is.

‘These aggressive searches are all about PR, about the police being seen to do something on the failing war on drugs.

‘The drug dog program is still pushed by both the Coalition and Labor despite common sense or any kind of evidence in support of it.

‘NSW, far from being an example for other states like SA and Victoria, shows how not to do drug dog operations,’ Mr Shoebridge said.

Number of strip searches following drug dog indications
2017: 1,124 of which 718 are false positives (64%)
2018: 375 of which 414 are false positives (56%)

Number of non-strip searches following a drug dog indication
2017: 10,224 of which 6,270 were false positives (61%)
2018: 4,423 of which 2,799 were false positives (63%)


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3 COMMENTS

  1. Are you guys as dumb as your opinions in this ‘story’ the dogs detection of drugs is 100% correct because they can smell drugs ‘that were once on their person’, sumple really if you have a brain trained to think about anything.

    • Have a think about this Barry…

      …if between 56% and 64% of the tax collected from you personally was being tipped down the drain how would you feel ?

      …if your doctor was getting their diagnoses correct between 56% and 64% of the time, would you keep going to see that doctor ?

      If the action taken is based on a false premise between 56% and 64% of the time then we should be looking for a better way to do it.

      Weasel words about “were once on the person” does nothing to say that we should carry on with wastefulness. The drugs the dog smell could have been on them, or near them, or passed by them, or who knows what – the law requires intent/knowledge in drug possession matters. A positive drug indication would not necessarily turn into charges/conviction anyway.

      And perhaps most importantly why unnecessarily expose young people to a brush with the police through these experiences which would serve to encourage or reinforce negative attitudes toward police.

      Police work is hard enough without setting the community you work for against you needlessly.

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