New South Wales punters are being unfairly targeted by police, the Greens say, as data reveals a multi-million dollar sniffer dog program gives false alarms almost 75 per cent of the time.
The NSW sniffer dog program costs almost $5 million a year to run, and between 1st January and 30th June this year resulted in 94,535 general and strip searches. Yet despite a terrible success rate police maintain the dogs are “very effective”.
In reaction, the Greens have renewed calls for a ban to the sniffer dog programme, calling it a “massive failure”.
“Over the past decade, $46 million has been spent on this program and this figure doesn’t even include the fact that six to ten police officers need to accompany every drug detection dog,” said NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann.
“It’s clear that the whole scheme is now being used to harass and target people for simply heading out for a drink, to catch a train or to attend a music festival.
“It’s especially hard to understand how, with all these police officers in attendance, the Law Enforcement Conduct Committee has repeatedly found that strip searches are being conducted improperly and without adequate record keeping.”
Particular concern comes from the way the program is linked to controversial strip-searching, as NSW police can search somebody if they suspect they are carrying illicit drugs. The use of sniffer dogs is a key way to determine this.
It is expected the government will review the program early next year, and health minister Ryan Park has already launched a frankly long-overdue shake up to NSW’s drug laws. This includes a two-count strike against people carrying certain substances, and treating drug use as a health issue.