Police Powers (Drug Detection Dogs) Act 2001 Review October 2006

ISBN 1-921131-36-5
Category Reports to Parliament
Publication Date 14 September 2006


The power to use drug detection dogs to aid police officers in the detection of drug offences, particularly drug supply, was clarified and expanded by the Police Powers (Drug Detection Dogs) Act 2001 ('the Drug Dogs Act'), which commenced on 22 February 2002. The Drug Dogs Act required the Ombudsman to monitor the use of drug detection dogs for a period of two years. Our review of the police use of drug detection dogs attracted unprecedented community interest, as evidenced by the number of telephone enquiries, complaints and submissions that we received. Our review found that despite the best efforts of police officers, the use of drug detection dogs has 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.These findings have led us to question whether the Drug Dogs Act will ever provide a fair, efficacious and cost effective tool to target drug supply. Given this, we have recommended that the starting point, when considering this report, is to review whether the Drug Dogs Act should be retained at all.

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