RLC in the Media: Anti-strip search campaign gains momentum in NSW

Sniffer dogs and police are harassing more people at train stations, and strip searches of young people, Aboriginal and people in regional NSW are on the rise.

Rachel Evans & Susan Price report For Green Left Weekly

Redfern Legal Centre launched a Safe and Sound campaign last December, which aims to stop unnecessary strip searches, provide fairness and dignity for young people and ensure safe music and cultural festivals for young people. It also aims to see laws around strip searching changed.

Strip searching is traumatising and degrading. In particular, women who have been sexually assaulted can suffer a repeat of the degrading mental effects of the original incident and incidences.

The Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (LEPRA)  allows police to conduct strip searches where it is deemed “necessary and urgent”. Police need additional “reasonable doubt” to search members of the public.

Section 33 of the LEPRA says a strip search must be carried out in an enclosed area, body cavities should never be checked, the search should not involve the removal of any clothing unnecessarily and an officer should never touch an individual.

However, there have been incidences of strip searches carried out in public, with police officers touching victims and with a police officer of the opposite sex present (searches can only be conducted with an officer of the same sex). In some cases, children as young as 10 have been strip searched and asked to squat and cough.

What should you do when told by a police officer you will be strip searched?

First, tell them you do not consent to the strip search. This will assist in legal proceedings later. Secondly, ask for the police officer’s name and police station. This will also assist in proceedings.

However, if the police officer is determined to strip search you and you refuse, you could be charged with hindering police work. In this case, having a friend or bystander filming, from a safe distance, can stop the police from carrying out a more violent assault.

Read the full article here: (Green Left Weekly, 24 May 2019)