RLC in the Media: NSW Police chief defends strip searches

The NSW Police Commissioner has backed his officers’ use of strip searches, saying there should be “a little bit of fear” of law enforcement.

Australian Associated Press

Commissioner Mick Fuller on Monday said he’d sent a video to his 17,000 police officers around the state saying he fully supported strip searching and warning changes to policing policy would increase crime.

The Commissioner’s comments echo those of NSW Police Minister David Elliot, who this month said he’d be happy for his children to be strip searched if police officers believed they were about to commit a crime.

“The reality is we need to be a police force and part of that is searching people – which doesn’t make everybody happy – but people need to know there are consequences, especially those who are criminals or on the verge of being criminals,” Mr Fuller told The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

“They need to have respect and a little bit of fear for law enforcement.”

Data obtained by the Redfern Legal Centre earlier this month showed more than 100 young girls have been strip searched by police in the past three years.

In response to Mr Fuller's comments, RLC's police powers solicitor Samantha Lee said the centre agreed strip searches should be used for possession of a weapon, but is calling for such searches to be limited to serious offences.

"It was always parliament's intent that strip searches be used in 'serious' and 'urgent' circumstances, such as weapons offences," she said.

"This is precisely what RLC is calling for, that strip searches be limited to 'serious' offences such as weapon offences and drug supply."

RLC, which obtained the figures under freedom of information laws, said police were strip searching “terrified” teen girls often unaware of their rights.

The figures showed 3919 females were strip searched by police between 2016 and 2019, including two 12-year-old girls and a 72-year-old woman. A total of 122 girls aged between 12 and 17 were searched.

Read the full article here (SBS News, 18 November 2019)