Lawyers defend innocent festival goers

Man being handcuffed and searched

Drug search and arrest courtesy Elvert Barnes

For immediate release

Dowson Turco Lawyers (DTL) is alarmed by statements of senior NSW Police Force officers say that they will instruct police officers to ban festival-goers from attending the Above & Beyond event in Sydney this weekend if the festival-goers happen to have a drug dog sit down next to them.

In response to this ostensible overreach of executive power, crime partner at Dowson Turco Lawyers, Nicholas Stewart said:
“The NSW Police Force does not have the power to prosecute civil penalties against innocent party-goers simply because a police drug dog has given an indication that they have drug particles on their clothes or skin. The law requires a criminal act to have been committed before an accused person can be penalised and an indication by a drug dog in respect of a civilian does not, at law, trigger a criminal prosecution. This is a dangerous over-reach of executive power and inconsistent with ancient laws that require accused people be presumed innocent until they are proven guilty of contravening the law.”

“Drug dogs have been shown, time and time again, to be ineffective at accurately detecting drugs on people. Unfortunately, drug dogs remain used by law enforcement agencies in NSW but, if they are used for the purposes of banning innocent people from attending events, then there is a real risk that the NSW Police Force will undermine public confidence in the integrity of its work.”

“Not only is this police activity beyond the legislated power prescribed and delegated by the Parliament of NSW, it is also activity capable of constituting civil torts including the torts of trespass to the person, battery and unlawful imprisonment.”

In response to legal proceedings brought by NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, Mr Stewart said “David Shoebridge MLC has sought injunctive relief which may or may not be successful. I admire his advocacy on this issue but cannot speak further about the proceedings.”

Media Contact: Matt Mitchell
M: 0431 980 365