Page last updated at 03:01 GMT, Saturday, 21 May 2005 04:01 UK

Powder mix-up fools sniffer dogs

Sniffer dog
Dogs can be vital to police work, but only if they know what to sniff for

A team of Australian drug sniffer dogs has been sent back for retraining, after it was found they could only track talcum powder, not cocaine.

Melbourne police found that the white powder used to hone the dogs' nostrils was not in fact an illegal substance.

A probe is now under way to see whether any illicit drugs have gone missing.

"They're very good at detecting talcum powder," joked Assistant Commissioner Paul Evans. "If there's any missing kids, we'll find them fairly quickly."

The seven dogs had been in training since January.

They are meant to sit down next to a person, when they detect the scent of cocaine.

Unfortunately, the dogs have yet to smell the drug, since the bag of white powder supplied by the Australian Federal Police for the canine training turned out to be talcum powder.

Police in Victoria have launched an inquiry to see whether any cocaine has gone missing.

But Assistant Commissioner Evans said that drugs were sometimes cut with other substances.

It was also possible that the training bag was mislabelled.

Victoria police must now find out if cocaine has gone missing
"It's embarrassing," Mr Evans told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"It shouldn't happen, it did happen, it certainly tested our audit procedures, which have worked in this case.

"We have picked it up ourselves fairly quickly."

Victoria's Police Minister Tim Holding was unimpressed.

"I was surprised and I was disappointed," he said.

There is no word on how long it will take to break the dogs' talcum habit and retrain them to react only to cocaine.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2018 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific