RLC in the Media: Class action investigation launched into police strip searches at Splendour in the Grass

Lawyers have launched a class action investigation into what they believe could be hundreds of "unlawful" strip searches of music festival patrons by NSW Police.

Isabelle Lane reports for SBS News.

Lawyers in New South Wales have announced they are investigating a possible class action over what they say could be "hundreds" of unlawful strip searches of music festival patrons by NSW Police.

“Hundreds of people are believed to have been unlawfully searched at the Splendour in the Grass music festivals in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019,” Slater and Gordon and Redfern Legal Centre said in a joint statement released on Tuesday.

Redfern Legal Centre’s principal solicitor Alexis Goodstone said the “ground-breaking class action will seek redress for the many people subjected to invasive and traumatic searches”, describing unlawful searches by police as a systemic problem that needs to be urgently addressed.

Slater and Gordon and Redfern Legal Centre urged “anyone searched by NSW Police at those festivals – including those asked to lift or remove clothing during a search, or who had police peer into their trousers or look under their tops” to register with them to find out how the potential class action might affect them.

“People affected by serious breaches could potentially be entitled to tens of thousands of dollars each,” they said.

An unlawful police search is “classified by law as an assault and gives rise to compensation”, Slater and Gordon senior associate Ebony Birchall said.

“We believe that hundreds of people who were searched by police at Splendour may have been subject to unlawful searches and therefore may be entitled to compensation,” Dr Birchall said.

“Some festivalgoers searched by police – including people aged under 18 – were allegedly directed to lift or remove items of clothing, strip naked and squat and cough, or lift their genitals so officers could visually inspect body cavities.”

Read the full article here. (SBS News, 16 November 2021)