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Clover Moore warns police over sniffer dogs at Sydney WorldPride

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore has warned police she does not want visitors to be confronted by walls of armed officers and drug dogs at February’s WorldPride festival, with councillors concerned about “heavy-handed policing” in the city’s LGBTQ epicentre.

Moore, an early proponent of the Kings Cross safe injecting centre and long-standing sniffer dog sceptic, also backed the ACT’s recent move to decriminalise possession of small quantities of drugs such as heroin, cocaine and speed.

NSW Police sniffer dogs at a music festival in Sydney in 2016.Credit:Fairfax Media

The City of Sydney agreed on Monday night to give WorldPride another $300,000 to help beautify Oxford Street – which Moore admitted “needs a bit of love right now” ahead of the largest LGBTQ event ever hosted in Australia.

The council also adopted a long-term Oxford Street place strategy, including an amendment from Greens deputy mayor Sylvie Ellsmore calling for new strategies to “prevent heavy-handed policing in the precinct”, which passed unanimously.

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Moore said it was a pity if people felt unsafe in the presence of police, and her council had worked hard to improve relations between the community and the nearby Surry Hills command. However, she acknowledged “changes in police behaviour” regarding drug detection dogs.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said international visitors to Sydney should not be greeted with lines of police during WorldPride.Credit:James Alcock

“People feel really quite intimidated if a uniformed police officer comes through a bar with a dog to check people out, and I’d like to think we’re not going to see that sort of thing happening,” Moore said.

“We’re going to be welcoming people to WorldPride, not welcoming them with a line-up of police, frankly, which is not what we’re about.”

Moore affirmed her support for drug harm minimisation policies, and said these should be “taken further in terms of how we’re policing Oxford Street so that people don’t feel intimidated … we want them to feel welcome and enjoy it, especially now the lockouts are over”.


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