Report

Drug detection dogs: the legal position in New South Wales

15 Oct 2012
Description

This paper sets out the background to this proposed legislation, looking at the development of the relevant statutory law, along with the debate about the use of drug sniffer dogs.

On 19 September 2012 the NSW Attorney General, Greg Smith, introduced into the Legislative Assembly a Bill to extend the scope of the use of drug detection or "sniffer" dogs without warrant in Kings Cross and on CityRail lines - the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Amendment (Kings Cross and Railway Drug Detection) Bill 2012 [the 2012 Bill]. As explained in the explanatory note, the object of the Bill:

  • is to authorise the use by police officers of dogs for general drug detection (without warrant) on the streets and other public places in the Kings Cross precinct. The Bill also adds additional train lines on which police officers may use dogs for that purpose so that all suburban train lines on which CityRail operates train services are covered.

The 2012 Bill would insert new subsection 148(1)(d) into the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 [LEPRA], to extend the use of sniffer dogs for general drug detection in authorised places (without warrant) to include "persons at any public place in the Kings Cross precinct". It would also amend the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Regulation 2005 to extend the use of drug detection dogs to all CityRail suburban train lines.

On one view, the 2012 Bill does not involve the introduction of any new principle or practice into the criminal law. Rather, it can be said to extend the geographical fields of operation for defined police powers under s 148 of LEPRA. On the other hand, the 2012 Bill applies to an entire neighbourhood, which is partly residential in nature. In this respect its scope of operation can be said to be quite different to the current law, which is targeted to particular premises and events, as well to specified train lines.

The purpose of this e-brief is to set out the background to this proposed legislation, looking at the development of the relevant statutory law, along with the debate about the use of drug sniffer dogs.

Publication Details
Published year only: 
2012
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