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News (Media Awareness Project) - Australia: Police Defend Use Of Sniffer Dogs
Title:Australia: Police Defend Use Of Sniffer Dogs
Published On:2011-12-16
Source:Northern Star (Australia)
Fetched On:2011-12-19 06:01:59
POLICE DEFEND USE OF SNIFFER DOGS

FIGURES that show sniffer dogs are wrong four out of five times
dampened the launch of the NSW Police Force's new dog squad program
this week.

On Wednesday, the NSW Police Minister Michael Gallacher officially
launched the Police Force's Dog Unit Regionalisation Program, which
will see seven commands across NSW get a boost in the form of a dog
squad.

Richmond Local Area Command (LAC) welcomed a general-purpose german
shepherd, a drug detection labrador and a police dog handler last month.

Tweed-Byron LAC has also been allocated a dog unit.

As the police canines were showing off their capabilities at a
demonstration in Coffs Harbour on Wednesday, the NSW Greens were
releasing figures that showed sniffer dogs were less than effective.

In statistics obtained through parliamentary questioning, Greens MP
and justice spokesman David Shoebridge discovered 11,248 people were
wrongly identified as having drugs by sniffer dogs between January and
September this year.

Mr Shoebridge said something with an 80% error rate could not be
considered reasonable.

"These thousands of false positives mean there are thousands of
innocent people being ritually humiliated on our public streets and
public transport network," he said.

Admitting sniffer dogs did have a role in policing, Mr Shoebridge said
they should be used when there is other police intelligence that
identifies a drug.

Tweed MP and NSW parliamentary secretary for police Geoff Provest
disagreed.

"Sniffer dogs are a good deterrent," he said.

"Sure there is an element of error but it also creates an element of
fear in people with drugs.

"(The dog squad) will create greater security for the officers and
going by the evidence over the border in Queensland, the apprehension
rate of offenders is good."

Mr Provest confirmed the number of people wrongly identified as having
drugs was justified when compared to the drugs taken off the streets.
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