Guess how much taxpayers’ money police are spending on sniffer dogs?

Article image by Jack Toohey

Sniffer dog operations cost NSW tax payers nearly $10 million each year, according to data released to state parliament.

The Guardian reports that NSW police have spent nearly $66 million on training and operating sniffer dog teams since 2010, as well as an average of $56,875 each year fighting legal battles in court over drug detection operations.

The data was requested by NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, whose party has been running a campaign since 2002 to stop random public sniffer dog searches. And the $9,420,416.57 spent each year on maintaining sniffer dog operations is only a fraction of the true cost, Shoebridge said, as it doesn’t take into account the extra police resources needed to run dog teams, like having a minimum of six police officers on hand for every sniffer dog.

“The waste of money is just extraordinary,” Shoebridge said. “Added up since 2010 that’s enough to build four brand-new primary schools with a cool $6m left over as change.”

The cost is particularly concerning because sniffer dog operations are proven to be largely ineffective. Research in 2014 showed that more than two-thirds of personal searches indicated by sniffer dogs failed to find any drugs, meaning an average of 10,000 innocent people are publicly stopped and searched by police dog teams every year.

The Greens introduced a bill to parliament in March this year to end warrantless sniffer dog searches, and since 2014 they’ve been running the Sniff Off Facebook page, which alerts the public to patrolling sniffer dog teams. NSW police were even busted trolling that Facebook page from their personal profiles earlier this year.

“Put simply, the dogs don’t work and the police waste enormous resources proving that point every day at our train stations and on our streets,” Shoebridge said. You can check out the full data on sniffer dog costs over here and join the Sniff Off Facebook page over here.