New South Wales police in Australia are taking an incredibly hard, dare we say draconian, line on drugs this weekend when it comes an Above & Beyond concert in Sydney. The trance trio will be performing at the Sydney Showground, but concertgoers will have to get by police and drug-sniffing dogs first to get inside. They are taking abnormal steps in their searches. If a dog “makes an indication” towards someone, then that person will be denied entry.
This skips all sorts of steps in potential due process. Normally the dog would sniff you, you would get searched and then they would either find drugs or not. Given that drug-sniffing dogs have been found to be wrong up to 80% of the time in a 2011 study in this same region, you can imagine that people should be quite afraid that a dog even motioning towards you would mean you are denied entry. This could create quite a bit of chaos outside and some very angry patrons who have not seen these posts and want a explanation why their expensive ticket was wasted despite the fact they don’t have any drugs on them.
Yes safety is important and we don’t want drug fatalities or hospitalizations, but there are much better ways to go about things than this.
If you read the comments, people are not happy with this. Greens MP David Shoebridge, who helps run the Sniff Off campaign to end the use of drug dogs in NSW, noted that this happened at a previous festival. He told Junkee, "This is an appalling expansion of the drug dog program, effectively saying that you’re guilty if police find any drugs on you and you’re guilty if they don’t. That’s a very medieval approach to justice.”
He continues, “We know from study after study, and particularly from statistics obtained in Parliament under Freedom of Information laws, that drug dogs get it wrong up to three quarters of the time."
“We are in the process of discussing with lawyers the potential for a class action on this, and we’ll keep people posted.”