Got a question? Ask Lawmail

Send your questions to Lawmail

Can't find the info you are looking for?Got a problem you can’t solve?

If you're under 25, or an adult asking on behalf of a person under 18, you can send your questions to Lawmail and we will email an answer to you in under 10 days. Urgent matters are dealt with more quickly.

Go to Lawmail. It’s free and confidential.

All donations over $2 are tax deductible.

Sniffer Dogs

Where can police use drug sniffer dogs?

If police have a warrant, they can use drug sniffer dogs in places named on the warrant.

Police can also use a drug sniffer dog without having a warrant if they have a reasonable suspicion that you possess drugs.

Police can also use drug sniffer dogs without a warrant and without a reasonable suspicion on you if you are at the following places (or going into or leaving these places):

  • pubs, clubs and other places where alcohol is served (apart from restaurants);
  • entertainment events, including sporting events, concerts, dance parties & street parades; and
  • some public transport, bus stops and train stations, including:

Train Routes

 

Bankstown

Liverpool – Sydney Central via Bankstown

Inner West

Liverpool – Sydney Central via Regents Park

Eastern Suburbs

Bondi Junction – Sydney Central

Illawarra

Bomaderry – Sydney Central including train line between Sutherland and Cronulla Station via Kirrawee (but not including train line between Lysaght and Port Kembla

Northern

Newcastle – Sydney Central via Strathfield

South

Campbelltown – Sydney Central via Circular Quay and Granville

Western

Penrith – Sydney Central via Strathfield including Olympic Park loop

North Shore

Berowra – Sydney Central via Chatswood

 

Bus Routes

 

Albury

Albury – Sydney via Goulbourn and Hume Highway

Grafton

Grafton – Sydney via Kempsey and Pacific Highway

 
If you are in one of these places, police can bring drug sniffer dogs in the premises even if they don’t have a reason to think anyone there has drugs.

Police officers are required to keep sniffer dogs under control and take reasonable precautions to make sure that sniffer dogs don’t touch or hurt people.

If a sniffer dog sits down next to you, does this mean that the police can search you?

A police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you are in possession of drugs before they can search you. In different cases, a dog sitting down next to you might or might not be enough of a reason for a police officer to be suspicious that you possess drugs. This is a question that the law is still developing an answer to. One of the relevant factors is whether a sniffer dog can be mistaken about the presence of drugs.

If you think that the search was not based on a reasonable suspicion, you should seek legal advice or see our page complaints about police.

What should I do if the police want to search me?

If this happens, try to remember these tips:

  • Keep calm and be polite. Swearing or behaving offensively to the police will not help your situation. Usually it is a good idea to cooperate with the police and let them search you.
  • The police can ask for your name and address if they reasonably believe that an offence may have been committed and that you could help with their investigation. They have to give you a reason for asking. Ask them if you have to give them this information. If they say you don’t have to, then don’t. If they insist, you should cooperate – otherwise you may be fined. You may also be fined for giving the police false information about.
  • You can ask the police for their name, evidence that they are a police officer (if not in uniform) and their place of duty. Try to remember when and where they search you. This information can be important for you to know what is going on, as well as if you decide to make a complaint.
  • If you do have drugs on you and you have been taken into lawful custody, the police will need to identify you. If this happens, you should immediately seek legal advice.
  • If you do have drugs, the police may decide to give you a caution instead of charging you with an offence. For more information about this, see our page Youth Justice.

For more information, see our page on Police search powers and Criminal law.

 

This information was last updated 09/02/2011.