Over the last few years, sniffer dogs has become commonplace at music festivals and other public events. But while many of us have been stopped and searched from time to time, most of us don’t actually know what our rights are when it comes to these interactions.
A new video by Greens initiative Sniff Off is aiming to provide people with this critical information, to better arm the public with ways they can respectfully exercise their rights — whether that is your right to stay silent, or ways to register your non consent.
The video also outlines exactly what is appropriate and inappropriate when it comes to external searches and strip searches (for example, police are actually not allowed to touch your body at any time during a strip search.)
You also have the right to ask for an officer’s name, badge number, and station — and police must give you a record of anything they might seize during their search. It’s also vitally important to remain calm: “If you swear or physically resist, they’re going to use that as a reason to arrest you, and the matter will escalate.”
“Searches by police can be both traumatic and humiliating, the best support young people can have in these circumstances is an understanding of their rights,” Greens MP and Justice spokesperson David Shoebridge says. “A public that is well informed about their rights is the best protection for themselves and ultimately for the police.”
“One of the key messages of this video is that you have a right to silence, and you should use it,” Shoebridge stresses. “You are also within your rights to film police during interactions with them, as long as you’re not interfering with operations.”
According to information provided by Sniff Off, over 16,000 people are searched every year by drug detection dogs — but of these interactions, a whopping 64-72% “falsely indicate the presence of drugs.” So knowing your rights is critical.