Pubdate: Tue, 03 Jan 2006
Source: Australian, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2006sThe Australian
Authors: Richard Kerbaj, and Shaun Davies
Bookmark: (Raves)
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)
Bookmark: (Drug Dogs)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Ecstasy)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Club Drugs)


SNIFFER dogs used by police to arrest revellers at Melbourne's 
Summadayze festival on Sunday could turn party-goers to harder and 
more dangerous drugs that cannot be detected, a drugs expert has warned.

Paul Dillon, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre's 
information manager, said sniffer dogs used by police as a deterrent 
against recreational drug use could lead party-goers to harder drugs 
such asGHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate), an odourless recreational substance.

Victorian police used dogs to make 31 arrests at Summadayze, where 
more than 23,000 patrons kick-started the new year.

Five arrests were related to drug possession, and two men will face 
court at a later date charged with possession and drug trafficking.

If police could detect ecstasy, the "more savvy drug users" would 
turn to GHB, Mr Dillon said. "Often, that drug is far more risky than others."

Previous research has suggested that drug raids at dance parties 
could also lead users to quickly down their supply to avoid being arrested.

"What people do is they take all the drugs that they have. We hear 
about people taking a lot of things quickly," Mr Dillon said.

Of the 31 charged or cautioned in the crackdown, 24 were first-time 
offenders who had either a small amount of drugs in their possession 
or had taken drugs, police said.

The offenders would have toundergo drug counselling programs.

Mr Dillon said the arrests were merely to give the impression the 
police were doing something about drugs, rather than cracking down on 
big-time drug dealers and users.

"Anybody who has done any research into drug-use patterns ... knows 
that people don't buy drugs at parties and at raves," he said. "The 
chance of getting a dealer at a major dance party is very remote."

All of the arrests were made outside the venue, but civil 
libertarians were outraged yesterday that sniffer dogs were at Sunday's event.

"We're concerned it's being done without regard for ... civil 
liberties ... and the intimidation it could mean for many people who 
are quite innocent," Civil Liberties Victoria president Brian Walter said.

"We don't think the police actions are justified in these circumstances."

Penalties for trafficking illicit drugs include a maximum fine of 
$3000 or up to 15 years in jail, while possession carries a maximum 
fine of $500.

Additional reporting: AAP
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