You may have seen reports in the press earlier this week about a successful raid on a dance party at Homebush. Once again, sniffer dogs were used and it resulted in a number of people facing court charged with a range of drug offences. Things have been reasonably quiet of late but it is important not to be complacent and assume the dogs have gone away. The reverse is actually the case -“ new dogs have been trained and, according to reliable sources, there are now new dogs which have been specially trained to identify ecstasy and other amphetamine products.
If you are carrying drugs on your person there is a very real chance you could be caught. Be aware of this risk. Of course, the most effective way to reduce these risks is not to carry illicit drugs on you. If you must, ensure the quantity is not deemed supply, as this carries a much greater penalty.
The best way to avoid problems with the police is to be as helpful and cooperative as possible -“ but it is also important to know your rights and to be aware of the extent of police powers. On the NSW Council for Civil Liberties website (http://www.nswccl.org.au/issues/sniffer_dogs.php) there is a section dedicated to sniffer dogs and your legal rights. Here are some of the main points.
Firstly, police are authorised to use drug sniffer dogs to search people randomly only in three situations: in pubs and other places where alcohol is served; at entertainment events, including sporting events, concerts, dance parties and street parades; and on public transport and stations. Any drug search of a person outside these situations is illegal unless the police have a reasonable suspicion or a warrant. If you have been approached by a police sniffer dog team outside these areas, you should complain or report it.
If a dog sits down next you, then police can search you. In this situation, firstly, stay calm and be polite. You could be fined or arrested if you swear at the police, so don’t give them an excuse. Be cooperative and let the police search you. But ask them why they are searching you and ask them for their name, rank and station. Try to remember where (location) and when (time of day) police search you, as this information might be important if you decide to make a complaint.
If you do have drugs on you the law says you must give your name and address to police. You don’t have to say anything more, if you don’t want to. This is your right to silence.
Take the time to look at the link above. It will give you more information on your rights and help you to be more prepared if you are ever put into a situation where you are approached by a sniffer dog.
Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?/p>