We often hear about festival attendees freaking out over the presence of drug dogs, but they don’t catch offenders nearly as often as one would think. The Australian K-9 Detection Unit’s canine narcotics detection unit was launched in the early 2000s to insure safety and peace-of-mind at a variety of locations. Among the functions of these dogs are to sniff out a range of illicit substances and scent residues, including narcotics such as amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA.
The Police Powers (Drug Detection Dogs) Act 2001 allows police to use these dogs outside of any venue selling alcohol. Naturally, music festival organizers turned to this unit to ensure a safe environment for their customers. The controversy of this program is their false positive rate, or the rate of people searched to drugs found, as it does not represent a good allocation of funds. The New South Wales Green party has staunchly been against this program as it represents the personal rights of festival goers. They recently released data which shows just how catastrophic this initiative has been.
Of the 9,380 people who were searched from August 2016 to August 2017, only 162 were charged with drug-dealing. This figure, 1.7%, is alarming when you consider the amount of money spent on the program.
From 2010 to 2016, the program cost the government and its taxpayers a total of $66 million, or around $9.4 million a year. Further evaluating these numbers, the cost of having 3 dogs at one festival costs $36,000 for six hours, an incredible amount of money.
Couldn’t this money be better put to use on having off duty police (without the dogs) in attendance to thwart violence instead? Let us know what you think below.