Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — (12 774) My question is to the Minister for Police and is in relation to Operation Safe Night, where sniffer dogs are being used on Chapel Street to address illegal drug use. This operation follows several people dying earlier this year after taking drugs, some in clubs in the Prahran electorate.
A New South Wales Ombudsman investigation revealed that these dogs only have a 26 per cent success rate in detecting a person carrying drugs, meaning that around three-quarters of searches result in no drugs being found. The report also found that to avoid detection, drug users engaged in risky behaviour, such as taking large amounts of drugs at once instead of taking smaller amounts over a period of time, taking drugs at home and then driving and switching to potentially more harmful drugs in the belief that these drugs will not be detected by sniffer dogs.
The government has already ruled out releasing potentially life-saving information about the contents of drugs seized. Considering the appallingly low success rate of these dogs and their potential to cause harm, can the minister explain how the use of sniffer dogs in the Prahran electorate will address illicit drug use and keep the public safe.
It is concerning that the overdose events that occurred in your electorate resulted in the deaths of three people and hospitalised over 20 people. I can assure you that the Andrews Labor Government is committed to reducing harm to individuals and the broader community that results from drug use, and is continuing to develop new initiatives and invest substantial funds to tackle this problem.
Any decision to use narcotics detection dogs is an operational matter for Victoria Police. The focus of Victoria Police remains on safety and harm minimisation. That means looking at all elements of the issue including prevention, education and supply reduction. I support the judgement of Victoria Police when it comes to how best to use their resources and powers.
The use of narcotics dogs in Victoria is just one tool police officers use to form reasonable grounds for suspecting a person may be possessing harmful substances, either for their own use or to sell to others. This tool, as well as many others, enables police to lawfully search a person for drugs without a search warrant.
The Hon Lisa Neville MP
Minister for Police