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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 December, 2004, 23:28 GMT
Rethink after Paris airport gaffe
A sniffer dog finds drugs and a large sum of money in a suitcase
French police have been routinely using the technique
French police say they will ban their technique for training dogs after a bag with plastic explosives was lost at a Paris airport during an exercise.

Police placed the bag in a passenger's luggage at Charles de Gaulle airport to see if sniffer dogs would detect it, but it was then loaded onto a flight.

The order to halt such training methods came after Prime Minister J-P Raffarin voiced concern at the bungled exercise.

Police say the explosives used cannot be activated without detonators.

However, the bag in which they were planted has still not been traced.

Passenger 'at risk'

"The procedures that were used Friday night will no longer be allowed," Pierre Bouquin, spokesman for France's police force known as gendarmes, was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

"We're going to stop practicing this on the bags of travellers," the spokesman added.

Earlier, Jean-Pierre Raffarin insisted that any future training must guarantee "the respect of the private life of passengers".

"The fight against terrorism and insecurity is a priority for the government, but [Raffarin] made clear his concern in the face of the way the training... was conducted" at the airport, a statement from Mr Raffarin's office said.

The statement said the existing procedures were "susceptible to making the relevant passenger run a risk in the eyes of foreign authorities when arriving in the destination country".

Whisked away

During the exercise, police deliberately placed the bag with up to 150g explosives in a randomly chosen passenger's luggage as it passed along a conveyer belt.

One of the sniffer dogs involved in the exercise successfully detected the item, but the other failed.

Police than tried to repeat the exercise, but the bag had been mistakenly whisked off.

The explosives could have made it onto any of 90 flights leaving Charles de Gaulle airport that evening, police said.

Embarrassment over the mistake

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