Thursday, September 02, 2004

Sniffer dogs popular with Police

At last night's PACT meeting, Police endorsed the continuing use of sniffer dogs in Kings Cross. The dog operations interrupted drug supply at various levels, they said.

The editor commented on this, pointing out that, according to the recent Ombudsman's Report, only 1.7g of heroin was found in sniffer dog searches over a whole year, and by far the majority of busts were for small amounts of marihuana. In addition, the report showed that 3,000 people had been searched, often in public, with no result.

Crime manager Jenny Hayes revealed that a dog on Kings Cross Station had detected someone carrying an ounce of ecstasy and an ounce of heroin. While this point must be granted, it however does little to alter the overall effect of sniffer dogs as it is thought the dealers know where the dogs are allowed to be used and avoid them, for example by using cars for transport. In 2,505 searches on trains, says the Ombudsman's report, not one single trafficable amount of drugs was found. Meanwhile Kings Cross suffers an even worse public image because of the common sight of people being searched on the street.

Clover Moore also criticised the sniffer dog program, following up her representations in Parliament and her call for a legal heroin trial in Redfern.

There was concern that Police resources were concentrated on the main street at the expense of back street patrols, where car break-ins and muggings occurred. The editor spoke about his partner having been the subject of five attempted muggings ( only one of them successful! ) and requested more pushbike police patrols late at night -- while it was hard to catch these criminals in the act, bikes were the best way to both surprise and catch the culprits.

Incoming police Commander Steve Cullen assured the meeting that back street patrols would never be compromised by main street operations, pointing out that the dog program was funded from elsewhere.

[Click on the headline to download the Ombudsman's report . On the page, go down to:

'June 2004 Discussion paper Review of the Police Powers (Drug Detection Dogs) Act ']

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