New South Wales Police has put its controversial new sniffer dog policy into action, with five people being turned away from a Sydney music event run by the electronic group Above & Beyond, despite no drugs being found on them.
Police last week announced plans to banish anyone singled out by a sniffer dog from entering the event grounds, regardless of whether or not they actually had drugs on them, before ploughing ahead with the operation on Saturday, following a failed court challenge.
In a statement to Music Feeds, NSW Police has confirmed that five concert-goers were issued with refunds and refused entry to the gig, despite no drugs being found on their person.
Meanwhile, four people who were allegedly caught with drugs were issued with Future Court Attendance Notices. Two men were also charged with supplying a prohibited drug, after more than 100 MDMA capsules were found.
Police say 13 other people were also “refused entry by police due to intoxication”.
Speaking with the ABC, one of the concert-goers who was ousted (despite having no drugs on him) says he was also handed a sixth month ban from the venue.
“I tried to get into the venue with my friends, the dog went up to me once didn’t detect went away and comes back… it sat, three officers took me into a side room and searched me,” the anonymous man said.
“They made me squat and cough and all that… they didn’t find anything because there wasn’t anything… and then I was issued with a six month ban from the venue.”
The Greens’ ‘Sniff Off’ collective took NSW Police to court last week over the tough new sniffer dog policy, calling it a “serious abuse of police powers”, but the judge shot down the attempt saying it was completely “hypothetical”.
“We don’t waste our time with hypothetical issues like that,” Justice Pembroke told the court.
But now that the situation is no longer hypothetical and real people have really been punished for essentially doing nothing wrong, Sniff Off have promised to “see the NSW Police Force in court next week”.
Figures from 2011 showed that 80 per cent of sniffer dog searches for drugs resulted in “false positives” in that year.