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Let Slip the Dogs of Law

The great gift of cash (fiat currencies included) is the anonymity it affords the bearer. Nobody but the bearer knows just how much cash he has. Nobody knows how much may have been earned, paid, spent, saved or transported.

But that is all about to change:

Dogs trained to sniff the ink on bank notes are being used for the first time on trains to detect criminals carrying large amounts of illicit cash.

The “currency dogs” have already been used successfully by Customs and Excise at ports and airports, where they have detected more than £800,000 in mainly drugs cash, and are now being targeted at mainline train routes into London.

So the dogs will miraculously detect ‘criminals’. Is this Trial by Canine? Do the sniffer dogs have to prove their case on a mere balance of probabilities or is proof beyond all reasonable doubt required? Will there be Defence Dogs standing by to rebut the charges?

And how is anyone supposed to know that the cash is ‘illicit’? Unless, of course, all cash is presumed to be illicit. Given its hitherto undetectable properties I can think of why certain institutions would insist on precisely that assumption:

However, those caught with such volumes of cash, even if not criminal, are likely to be investigated by tax authorities. Customs sources said they will only seize cash in cases of £10,000 or more.

It is the logical last piece of the jigsaw. What with the Money Laundering Laws and the War on Tax Havens, I reckon that the lockdown is pretty near to completion.

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13 comments to Let Slip the Dogs of Law

  • DJS

    Oh, crap. How long before these friggin’ dogs get to the US? I can see law enforcement types over here just drooling over this story.

  • Crosbie

    Maybe the plan will backfire if the off-the-books economy switches to relatively odourless gold coins? The fiat printers might lose one of their best customers.

  • Guy Herbert

    You joke about it, but the sniffer dogs’ powers are actually rather stronger. They can’t just seize your cash (or any other property suspected to be the proceeds of crime) on the balance of probabilities–oh no! They can seize what they like and you have to prove your lawful entitlement to it to get it back.

    The combination with tax authorities is very interesting. I wonder whether it will suit the authorities in due course to seize ad lib property held by private trusts and offshore companies.

  • Crosbie

    By the way, the lockdown is indeed pretty advanced.

  • Andrew Duffin

    Dogs? Sniffing? You guys are so 2002.

    Haven’t you read about the plan for all Euro notes to carry RF ID tags?

    THAT is how our cash will be monitored and measured in the future. Dogs don’t come into it.

  • Della

    Well I guess going round with a dog to steal from people is easier than robbing banks, although they pretty much do that too with the high taxes they have on interest (20 or 40%).

    You don’t need to worry about the Americans learning this trick from the British, they already know.

    I have noticed that American money has a quite distictive smell, and that recently English money has started to smell pretty similar. Scottish money (produced by multiple competing private banks) does not at current have any strong smell.

  • Tony H

    Don’t know about dogs – though see Tom Utley’s piece in last Saturday’s D.Telegraph about his son being “identified” by a police dog as a possible drug carrier at a railway station, and subsequently being detained & frisked, before being released…
    Isn’t this an extension of the already oppressive rules on cash, by which possession and/or transfer of large quantities renders one liable to investigation? I forget the figure, but surely UK banks are obliged to inform the IR about deposits of cash above a certain amount – and I’d have thought similar measures were in place in the USA. It stinks: as always, the rationale is about fighting crime, but it diminishes our freedom while dangerously enhancing the power of the State.

  • Harry Powell

    What’s to stop you vacuum-packing a brick of notes and dabbing some Old Spice on the wrapping? Far from being another instrument of oppression this looks set to become a pointless boondoogle.

  • craigl

    DJS: They are here, just not trained to sniff cash, yet. One problem, aside from the obvious libertarian considerations, is the fact that you can not put the dog on the stand to determine its’ credibility.

  • Harry,

    Your suggestion may well work. Clever people like you can always find ways to buck the system. However, what concerns me most the spread of such ‘guerilla’ tactics to preserve privacy and a decent life. If people are increasingly forced to resort to them it is a sure sign that things are getting worse not better.

  • Cobden Bright

    Cash will soon become an inherently suspicious commodity, used mostly by for criminal or surreptitious transactions, just like in William Gibson’s “Neuromancer”. I expect that using amounts greater than a couple of thousand will eventually become grounds for immediate arrest and questioning, if that is not the case already.

    Of course, such petty harrassment will do nothing to stop serious criminals, who will either use alternative means of money transfer, or employ penniless stooges to courier their wealth. The drug kingpins will not be affected, whilst the free citizen and the crooks on the very lowest rung of the ladder will be the ones to suffer.

    In my opinion, this will increase the attractiveness of other anonymous stores of wealth such as gold bullion, and offshore e-money. Practices such as hawala banking, and honour systems a la the Hanseatic league will also become more prevalent.

  • Duncan

    All that is happening is that the criminals who would normally carry large sums of money, are now, instead using stolen artwork as ‘letters of credit’. How soon before we have dogs which can sniff out oil paintings?

  • ricky

    In the us most cash has traces of cocaine on it.Many drug dogs will alert on this.In most cases if you have more than a couple hunded dollars your MONEY is presumed to be complicit in a crime and will be confiscated.Then you have to go to court to try and get it back.Also the new issue u.s. denominations have a plastic strip embedded in them as an anti – counterfeiting measure,some state that these strips show up on certain types of scanners. Allowing the appropriately equipped agencies to check your pockets and target those carrying large amounts for search.So i guess money dogs are not far fetched.