Strip searches in NSW doubled from a total of 560 in 2016 to 1,100 in 2017. And the trend has continued upwards, with 735 strip searches recorded in the first five months of 2018.
The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) is investigating police officers’ use of powers to conduct strip searches following a number of specific complaints and anecdotal information from a variety of community organisations.
Sam Lee, Solicitor with Redfern Legal Centre (RLC), believes a dramatic change in policing practices is driving a surge in strip searches.
Ms Lee says that msic festivals have seen a high-profile spike in the number of strip searches, but they have also been occurring in rural areas, in the suburbs, in the city, beside the road, on the street and in the back of a paddy wagon.
RLC today launched Safe and Sound, an initiative aimed at educating people about their rights – which include the preservation of privacy and dignity.
"The law governing strip searches is very vague, and quite open to interpretation, and that's what we want to change," Ms Lee said.
“This initiative is about trying to implement better safeguards for members of the public and also better guidance for police."
The NSW government has conceded that two COVID-19 fines being challenged in a Supreme Court test case are invalid, opening the door for more than 30,000 other people to have fines worth $30 million cancelled.