RLC in the Media: NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller says strip-search of girl at festival ‘doesn’t make me happy’

Fuller says he’s ‘disappointed’ with the way powers were used but young people should have ‘a little bit of fear’ of police.

Michael McGowan reports for The Guardian Australia

The New South Wales police commissioner, Mick Fuller, says he was “disappointed” by the conduct of officers who strip-searched a 16-year-old girl at a music festival in 2018 but has again stood by the use of the controversial police power.

After a dramatic rise in the number of strip-searches conducted by police over the past decade, Fuller said the rate of strip-searches was declining across that state as pressure mount on use of the practice.

“There’s certainly been a couple of examples recently from the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission where I was disappointed with the way the powers were used and I’m conducting a personal review into strip-searches to make sure the safeguards are being applied,” he said.

Fuller has taken the unusual step of publicly advocating for the use of strip-search powers in the wake of high-profile criticism, saying in an interview on Monday that young people should “have a little bit of fear” of police and that questioning “the legitimacy of policing” has “a negative impact on public safety”.

He also claimed reducing strip-searches could lead to an increase in knife crime, despite less than 1% of searches being conducted for that reason.

Asked about that on Tuesday, Fuller said he had not “been able to test” that data – contained in a landmark report from the Redfern Legal Centre and the University of NSW – but again insisted he was concerned about knife crime.

This month, the NSW deputy coroner Harriet Grahame released the findings of an inquest into festivals deaths which recommended drastically limiting strip searches, saying use of the practice can increase drug-related harm.

Read the full article here (The Guardian Australia, 19 November 2019)