RLC in the Media: NSW police strip-searched more than 340 school-aged boys in the past three years

Data published by The Guardian reveals that NSW police performed strip-searches on 344 boys in the last three years (2016-17 to 2018-19). Young boys aged (11 to 17 years) accounted for 3 per cent of searches (344).

Michael McGowan reports 

The data obtained by Redfern Legal Centre under freedom of information laws reveals that since 2016, there have been 11,304 strip-searches conducted by police on men in NSW. (Download data here: bit.ly/36hRiDT)

Young men aged 25 and under accounted for almost 42 per cent of the searches, while the oldest man strip-searched was 82-years-old.

Of most concern, the data shows one 11-year old, one 12-year-old, and four 13-year-old boys were strip-searched by police since 2016.

Their ages include:

  • One aged 11-years
  • One aged 12-years
  • Four aged 13-years
  • Eight aged 14-years
  • 47 aged 15-years
  • 115 aged 16-years
  • 168 aged 17-years.

Over the three year period, 66 per cent of strip searches (7,507) found nothing.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males accounted for 10 per cent of searches.

Speaking to the Guardian Samantha Lee, the head of police accountability at the Redfern Legal Centre, said the data indicated the extent of children in NSW who had been “subjected to an invasive, traumatic and harmful strip-search”.

“Strip-searching is traumatising children of all genders and all ages,” she said.

“I have found with young male clients who have been strip-searched there is a deep sense of humiliation and isolation, especially for those who have been asked to lift their testicles or made to squat. This data tells us that 344 school age boys have been subjected to an invasive, traumatic and harmful strip search.

“Disturbing evidence heard at the recent LECC hearings once again highlights that strip search law is failing to protect children from harm.

“Not only is the law ambiguous, it lacks the explicit inclusion of child protection principles promoted by all other NSW government services.

It is not only time for the law to change, a complete overhaul of strip searching practices within the NSW police force is urgently needed.”

Read the full article here (The Guardian, 6 December 2019)

Download the strip search data below: