Image for NSW’s Controversial Sniffer Dog Policy To Go Ahead, Despite Court ChallengeSniffer Dogs At Parklife Music Festival Sydney, 2010 / Photo: Don Arnold/Getty Images

NSW’s Controversial Sniffer Dog Policy To Go Ahead, Despite Court Challenge

Written by Emmy Mack on June 9, 2018

NSW Police will plough ahead with their controversial plan to banish any punter singled out by a sniffer dog from entering today’s Above & Beyond festival — regardless of whether or not they actually have drugs on them — after a judge slapped down a court attempt to stop it from happening.

ICYMI: The Greens’ ‘Sniff Off’ collective took the cops to court over their extreme new policy, seeking an injunction based on the argument that it was a “clear abuse of police powers”.

“It’s hard to see how this kind of action by police could be legal, seeing how it involves punishment in the absence of any offence,” Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said in a statement.

“Drug dogs get it wrong up to 75 per cent of the time. This is nothing more than the NSW Police punishing young people for the abject failure of their drug dog program.”

However, NSW Supreme Court Justice Michael Pembroke didn’t agree, effectively taking a giant legal deuce on the application yesterday morning on the grounds that the plaintiffs “did not have a cause of action to complain in advance” and calling the whole thing “a waste of everyone’s time”.

“We don’t waste our time with hypothetical issues like that,” Justice Pembroke told the court (via Fairfax).

“If I may say so, the prospect your client will be evicted from the concert is hardly justification for bringing this claim in advance,” he continued, adding that the ‘Sniff Off’ collective’s legal team could move forward on the basis that they make an application “when some rights of your clients have been infringed or there is an immediate threat”.

Speaking outside court, state Greens MP Jenny Leong said her party will “continue to campaign for the need for a reduction in harm [AKA pill testing] when it comes to drugs, and continue to stand up against the fact that we don’t want police to use their powers to intimidate young people”.

“Our absolute hope is that no young people have their rights violated on the weekend,” she said.

It means that anyone heading to Above & Beyond at Sydney Olympic Park today could be denied entry from the fest if a sniffer dog sits down next to them, even if they don’t have any drugs on them.

Promoters have promised that any punters who are barred from entering will be given a refund.

Figures from 2011 showed that 80 per cent of sniffer dog searches for drugs resulted in “false positives” in that year.

 

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