RLC in the Media: Data that shows NSW Police target Indigenous people for strip-searches 'could be doubled': Legal experts

New figures show Indigenous people are significantly over-represented in data tracking NSW Police strip-searches, and solicitors from Redfern Legal Centre and the National Justice Project fear the reality of those numbers is much worse.

Shahni Wellington reports for NITV News  

It is feared that startling figures on strip-searches - obtained through a freedom of information request by Redfern Legal Centre (RLC) - may only be scratching the surface of the issue.

RLC and Slater and Gordon are investigating a class-action lawsuit against the New South Wales Police and were seeking clarity on how often the "humiliating" and "invasive" process was affecting Aboriginal people when they lodged the FoI.

Now RLC police powers solicitor, Samantha Lee, suspects the statistics are probably worse in reality.

“I think you could probably double those numbers that we have been provided,” Ms Lee told NITV News.

“What we have found out through the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) public hearing - which is the police watchdog - is that police are not always recording strip-searches and that police actually don't even know what a strip-search is under the law,” she said.

Now, newly-obtained data detailing the demographics of people strip-searched between 2016 and 2018 by New South Wales police has found the practice is being carried out disproportionately on Aboriginal people.

Twelve per cent of strip-searches in the two year period were Indigenous people, even though they only make up a little more than three per cent of the state population.

It included one 10-year-old and two 11-year-olds.

Redfern Legal Centre is concerned that unlawful searches are being carried out particularly in regional and remote areas, and is urging more cases to come forward.

Read the full article here (NITV News, 17 June 2020)