PASSWORD RESET

Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

NSW: Police abuse strip searching powers

Reading Time: 2 minutes

NSW police have sparked outrage after revelations of frequent and unlawful strip searches being conducted on minors.

Recent inquiries by the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission and the Redfern Legal Centre (RLC) have uncovered numerous breaches and abuses of this power committed on children. In the last three years, NSW police have conducted over 450 strip searches on minors, including a ten-year-old Indigenous child and ten girls aged 12-13.

Under current NSW law, there must be a support person present during the strip searching of a minor. Investigations into an underage music festival held last February found only five of the thirty children strip searched had an appropriate adult present.

In one instance, a 16-year-old said he was subject to inappropriate touching during the search, and was subsequently thrown out of the festival despite police finding nothing. The inquiry found that SES volunteers employed by police to support minors were not required to have Working With Children checks and were not previously informed that they would be supervising strip searches.

In the majority of instances, the reported reason police conducted a strip search was suspicion of drug possession. Allowing police such discretion poses an exceptional risk of harm to groups at risk of police brutality.

Data has shown NSW police are targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who account for over 10% of all field strip searches, despite making up just 3% of the population.

Lawyers from the RLC have recommended a tightening in laws including requiring a court order to be obtained before a child is subject to a field strip search. There is undoubtedly a need to improve current laws in NSW to address the health and safety of children, but this alone would be insufficient in addressing issues of police intimidation and force.

Democratic community control of the police force is needed to hold officers accountable for their actions and reallocate resources to where they’re most needed.

By Sheri Bryson

SOCIALIST ACTION NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT!

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare many of the problems with capitalism. The Socialist strives to explain the systemic causes of this crisis, and reports about the issues that are important to working people. We also help to organise struggles against the powers that be.

We don’t receive a cent from big business or governments. Our work is fully funded by our supporters. Even if half the people who read our website every month donated a few dollars each we would raise thousands to help our work!

We need organisations of struggle now more than ever, so if you support what we do please consider making a donation.

One-off or regular donations can be made securely HERE.