Feeds

The Baying of the Hounds

Headspace: How the state is leading us by the nose

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

"Well, these dogs can smell the smallest trace of a drug on a person. A lot of people take drugs and once the dog has picked up a scent of drugs on them, we have the right to search them. If we find drugs on them we can then search their homes and in their homes we usually find all manner of incriminating articles."

Now I understood. Who needs a warrant when you've got a dog? Restrictions on police powers were being circumvented by a dog's bark. Man's best friend was a Judas. I nodded approvingly at him.

"The Muslims don't like it though," he added. "Or the Chinese." The officer didn't seem particularly upset by this. I thanked him and went on my way.

On my way back from court a few weeks later, I was walking through Clapham Junction station subway when I saw a group of officers with a black dog. The dog handler was tall and chubby with a dirty smile. The officers had stopped to chat amongst themselves just past one of the stairwells. A little black girl stood guarding a suitcase for her mother at the bottom of the steps. The dog kept going over to her case but the handler took no interest. I heard one of the nicer-looking officers ask the handler why it kept going over to her. The handler beamed and laughed. "He can smell she's black can't he?"

Somewhat revolted by this scene I told my mother about it. It didn't faze her at all. "Oh I know," she said. "I have read about it in The Daily Bulletin."

The Daily Bulletin is the local ex-pat paper in Majorca and often contains snippets from Reuters not picked up on elsewhere in the media.

"In fact there is a case going through the courts at the moment in which the police are being sued for training their dogs to go after black people."

Did different races emit distinct odours? It seemed unlikely to me but perhaps nothing could be dismissed as impossible in this strange new world of olfactory policing. There was something unnerving about the prospect of being sniffed by a police dog but I couldn't put my finger on what. Perhaps it was the deeply entrenched cultural association between sniffing and snooping. Inquisitive people have historically been derided for their nosiness. Fed up with the unpaid hours of work required to defend suspects properly, I decided to accept a well-paid office job as a government lawyer in the Court of Appeal. Tracy, a solicitor who had regularly instructed me when I'd worked as a barrister, called me one day out of the blue after I'd been working in the office for several months and we arranged to meet for coffee opposite the Royal Courts of Justice.

"So what are you up to?"

"Bit fed up with the day job – too much administration."

"That's office life."

"I'm thinking of undertaking some legal research into sniffer dogs."

"Really, that will be interesting." She pulled her Gucci sunglasses back over her heavily made up eyes and took a drag on a Benson and Hedges. "My client's wife had a run in with them only yesterday." She passed the packet of cigarettes over to me.

"Do tell," I begged, discarding my slice of cake and resolution to give up smoking and taking one of her Bensons.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.