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  • Writer's pictureGeoff Harrison

Drug Detection Dogs


Published by Geoff Harrison | 14 July 2023


Police are authorised to use a dog for the detection of drugs as per s147 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 ('the Act'). In doing so, police must comply with s150 of the Act in that, police must take reasonable precautions to prevent the dog from touching a person and they must keep the dog under control when carrying out general drug detection.


The NSW Police Drug Detection Dog Deployment Standard Operational Procedure can be viewed by clicking here. There have been a number of complaints about the use of drug dogs by police and subsequent searches as per the article in the Sydney Morning Herald in 2019. The Hon. Ms Leong (for Newton) has also spoken out in parliament (1 June 2023) about police and inter alia the over use of sniffer dogs.


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145 MEANING OF "GENERAL DRUG DETECTION"


(cf Police Powers (Drug Detection Dogs) Act 2001 , s 5)

For the purposes of this Division--

"general drug detection" is the detection of prohibited drugs or plants in the possession or control of a person, except during a search of a person that is carried out after a police officer reasonably suspects that the person is committing a drug offence.


146 GENERAL AUTHORITY TO USE DRUG DETECTION DOGS


(cf Police Powers (Drug Detection Dogs) Act 2001 , s 4)

(1) If a police officer is authorised to search a person for the purpose of detecting a drug offence, the officer is entitled to use a dog for that purpose.


(2) A police officer is, for the purpose of detecting a drug offence, entitled to be accompanied by a dog under the officer's control if the officer is entitled to enter, or be in or on, particular premises in the exercise of the officer's functions.


(3) Neither the State nor a police officer is liable to any action, liability, claim or demand merely because a dog entered, or was in or on, premises as provided by this section.


147 USE OF DOGS FOR GENERAL DRUG DETECTION AUTHORISED


(cf Police Powers (Drug Detection Dogs) Act 2001 , s 6)

A police officer is authorised to use a dog to carry out general drug detection, but only as provided by this Division.


148 GENERAL DRUG DETECTION WITH DOGS IN AUTHORISED PLACES


(cf Police Powers (Drug Detection Dogs) Act 2001 , s 7)

(1) A police officer may, without a warrant, use a dog to carry out general drug detection in relation to the following persons--

(a) persons at, or seeking to enter or leave, any part of premises being used for the consumption of liquor that is sold at the premises (other than any part of premises being used primarily as a restaurant or other dining place),

(b) persons at, or seeking to enter or leave, a public place at which a sporting event, concert or other artistic performance, dance party, parade or other entertainment is being held,

(c) persons on, or seeking to enter or leave, a public passenger vehicle that is travelling on a route prescribed by the regulations, or a station, platform or stopping place on any such route,

(d) persons at, or seeking to enter or leave, any part of premises that the officer is authorised to enter under the Tattoo Parlours Act 2012 to carry out general drug detection using a dog,

(e) persons at any public place in the Kings Cross precinct (being the area including and bounded by the parts of streets specified in Schedule 2 to the Liquor Act 2007 ),

(f) persons at, or seeking to enter or leave, any part of premises that the officer is authorised to enter under section 10 of the Restricted Premises Act 1943 .


(2) In this section--

"public passenger vehicle" means a train, light rail vehicle or bus that is used to provide a public passenger service.

(3) A reference in this section to Schedule 2 to the Liquor Act 2007 is a reference to that Schedule as in force on the commencement of this subsection.


149 GENERAL DRUG DETECTION WITH DOGS BY WARRANT


(cf Police Powers (Drug Detection Dogs) Act 2001 , s 8)


(1) A police officer may use a dog to carry out general drug detection if authorised to do so by a warrant under this section.


(2) A police officer who has reasonable grounds for believing that the persons at any public place may include persons committing drug offences may apply to an authorised officer for a warrant under this section.


(3) An authorised officer to whom such an application is made may, if satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for doing so, issue a warrant authorising any police officer to use a dog to carry out general drug detection in the public place during the period or periods specified in the warrant.


(4) An application for a warrant under this section must disclose whether any general drug detection to be carried out under the warrant will be part of a covert police operation.


150 PROVISIONS RELATING TO GENERAL DRUG DETECTION


(cf Police Powers (Drug Detection Dogs) Act 2001 , s 9)

(1) A police officer carrying out general drug detection under this Division is to take all reasonable precautions to prevent the dog touching a person.


(2) A police officer is required to keep a dog under control when the officer is using the dog to carry out general drug detection under this Division.


(3) General drug detection under this Division may be carried out as part of a covert police operation, but only if it is authorised by a warrant under this Division.


(4) The provisions of this Division do not affect--

(a) the search of a person whom a police officer reasonably suspects is committing a drug offence, or

(b) any search of premises that does not involve a search of persons in or on the premises.


(5) Nothing in this Division confers on a police officer a power--

(a) to enter any premises that the officer is not otherwise authorised to enter, or

(b) to detain a person who the officer is not otherwise authorised to detain.


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