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Drug Detection Dogs

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Date Published:
20 Apr 2016
Contact person:
Marion Downey
+61 (0) 401 713 850

Comments on Greens Bill to end use of Sniffer Dogs without a warrant

Attribute to Kari Lancaster, Drug Policy Modelling Program at NDARC, lead author of a recent review of the expansion of the use of drug detection dogs in NSW

“The current discussion around the use of sniffer dogs in NSW is timely but not new,” said Kari Lancaster a senior research officer and PhD student at NDARC.

“The 2006 NSW Ombudsman’s report on the Police Powers (Drug Detection Dogs) Act 2001 found that the use of drug detection dogs had proven to be an ineffective tool for detecting drug dealers and that most searches of individuals found no drugs or very small quantities intended for personal use.

“DPMP’s recent research suggests that there was little rational basis for the introduction of the policy other than a political imperative to be seen to be responsive, and despite the lack of evidence of effectiveness their use has expanded over time.

“The current debate is timely and relevant particularly on civil libertarian grounds as searching individuals is invasive and intimidating, and in three out of four cases drugs are not found.”

DPMP, NDARC are undertaking a number of other projects assessing extent and nature of police use of drug detection dogs in NSW and the deterrent effects of drug detection dogs (and other policing approaches) on drug use and supply. These will be completed by December 2016.

Kari Lancaster, Caitlin Hughes and Alison Ritter (2016) Drug dogs unleashed: An historical and political account of drug detection dogs for street-level policing of illicit drugs in New South Wales, Australia. Australia and New Zealand Journal of Criminology. Early online publication http://anj.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/04/05/0004865816642826?patientinform-links=yes&legid=spanj;0004865816642826v1

Media contact: 

Marion Downey
Communications Manager, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre
P: (02) 9385 0180 | 0401 713 850 | m.downey@unsw.edu.au