More on suspicion-less searches- Sniffer Dogs

Sniffer dog searchesWhile flying into an Australian international airport recently a Customs official grabbed my immigration card, marked it and gave it back to me. Good I thought, I’m going to get passed through.
I was wrong. I was taken aside from other passengers and forced to stand in a line with about a dozen other unfortunates. Then we waited while a dog and handler was arranged and run along the line, vigorously sniffing us all as we stood there.

Nothing was found and we were told we could leave. I objected to what had happened but the Customs officers said something like “too bad you’re upset mate”.

In fact these ignorant misguided heavily uniformed power drunk thugs had just breached one of the most basic tenets of Western civilisation, being that no one who is not under suspicion of committing a crime should be stopped and searched by authorities (police, customs whoever) while going about their lawful business.

My protests along these lines to the officers concerned fell on completely deaf ears.

The NSW Greens are a generally detestable lot, but I am going to surprise my readers by saying I fully support one of their initiatives, and that is stopping the use of sniffer dogs because they are a breach of civil liberties.

Jenny Leong, the member for Newtown, has reintroduced an amendment bill to the NSW state parliament that aims to repeal the parts of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 that allow the use of drug detection dogs without warrants on public transport, at festivals and in bars.

On top of the civil liberties argument, there is the ridiculous cost of maintaining the service, and also the fact that the dogs are largely ineffective as a search device.

17,747 citizens were apprehended after being sniffed. In 11,331 of these cases, no drugs were found.

The Sniffer dog squad has cost NSW taxpayers $66  million to run over the last 5-6 years.

The NSW ombudsman recommended the immediate end of the program in a report in 2006, saying that, despite police officers’ best efforts, it had proven to be “an ineffective tool for detecting drug dealers”.

“Overwhelmingly, the use of drug detection dogs has led to public searches of individuals in which no drugs were found, or to the detection of (mostly young) adults in possession of very small amounts of cannabis for personal use.”

The Greens are unusually right on this issue. Sniffer dogs are costly and ineffective, but most importantly, they are a serious breach of civil liberties and should not be used to search innocent people going about their lawful business, in NSW streets, trains, airports or anywhere in the supposedly civilised Western world.

Any search, anywhere, any time, should be subject to a warrant.



Categories: Australian Politics, Culture

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7 replies

  1. Voting for the Greens on this issue alone would be extremely unfortunate given that most of their other policies are pure marxism.

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  2. I think you have this all wrong Red.

    It is about controlling the population. We are the Government and you will do as we say.

    When you look at the number of drink drivers or drug lords found the policy would have to be a failure.

    I also object to being detained on the side of the road without reasonable cause for booze.

    I am also staggered at the cost of searching people leaving the Country under the guise of stopping terrorists. In NZ we have not had one case of a terrorist being stopped but plenty of bottles of water and nail clippers.

    Last trip to OZ on the way back we were going through the scanner area and while I was waiting for the wife to be searched I noticed that the 2 x ray operators were more interested in talking to each other and not paying attention to the screens.I went to what looked like an office and asked to speak to a manager. I told him if they were not going to monitor the screening then it was a waste of time. We then stood watching the operators carrying on with their conversation. When he went to speak to him the effectively told him to piss off.

    My guess both here and in OZ is that if a terrorist wanted to blow up a plane then the chances of succeeding would be very good. The question is why would they want to.

    Given the option of undertaking the checks or just hopping on a plane like we used to, the vast majority would probably prefer to just hop on the plane.

    But remember propaganda aside it is all about controlling and asserting authority over the population.

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  3. you do realise the law of the land doesnt apply until you actually cross the “border” into ACTUAL national territory dont you ? When you are in the customs “zone” you are in “international waters” & your rights under the law dont apply

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    • If you cross any border you are a suspect in committing a crime as that is what criminals do (bring drugs etc). There is nothing about the way you look that lets you off the hook. If customs only targeted certain types those certain types would change their appearance.

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  4. “Items that have been used for outdoor activities, including any footwear, tents, camping, hunting, hiking, golf or sports equipment?”

    Given the plethora of compliance issues, I challenge anyone to meet the criteria of “innocent people going about their lawful business.”
    On scrutiny, the Passenger Arrival Card upon return to New Zealand makes it impossible to technically answer ‘no’ to all questions. it becomes clear that had one merely gone outside one would be compelled to tick ‘yes’ unless one went outside bereft of shoes and all clothing.
    The customs officer wasn’t amused. Neither was I. His dog was interested, but declined to comment though it did sniff and even wagged its tail as a bonus.
    As a result, the kollectiv rifled nonchalantly through my caravan of baggage, knowing it would occupy their otherwise largely vacuous job for 10 minutes.
    Welcome to the UN administration of NZ.

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