RLC in the Media: Australia: 22-year old woman strip searched in front of shop window

A 22-year-old woman was allegedly strip searched in front of a shop window by two male police officers last month.

Ugur Nedim and Sonia Hickey report for Sydney Criminal Lawyers

22-year-old Teleaha Bower was allegedly approached by two undercover male police officers outside a pawn shop in St Mary’s last month and was told she would be strip searched.

According to Bower, the officers claimed there had been a break-in nearby and suspected her involvement.

She says the officers emptied the entire contents of her handbag onto the ground, then forced her to face the shop’s front window and lift her clothing to reveal her torso and upper body, in full view of a man inside.

“The worst part was it was two male officers and they could just do it anywhere,” she told the media.

There is an ever-increasing number of reports concerning police officers acting unlawfully by failing to comply with the rules for conducting strip-searches which are set out in the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002.

The LEPRA permits strip searches only in cases where “the seriousness and urgency of the circumstances make the strip search necessary”, and stipulates that “the privacy and dignity” of those being searched should be preserved.

Recently, the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) has heard other humiliation and fear experienced by a 16-year old girl as was unlawfully strip searched upon entering the Splendour in the Grass festival in Byron Bay last year.

The 16-year-old was one of 122 females under the age of 18 that have been subjected to the degrading process of a strip search in recent years, according to figures obtained by the Redfern Legal Centre.

The procedure is now firmly in the spotlight, and is the subject of inquiry by the LECC.

There is also vocal opposition to the increase in strip searches by the Greens Party, Redfern Legal Centre (RLC) and the general public, who are becoming increasingly aware that they – or members of their family – are increasingly likely to face the humiliating procedure at the hands of police officers.

Read the full article here (Sydney Criminal Lawyers, 20 November 2019)