RLC in the Media: Strip searches of Indigenous kids by NSW Police “increasing”

New figures released by the Redfern Legal Centre (RLC) via freedom of information laws revealed that in the past year, NSW Police have continued to strip search dozens of children.

This is despite public demands to cease and desist, and three official inquiries in late 2019 condemning the practice. 

Alec Smart reports for Sydney Sentinel.

The number of Indigenous children being strip searched is also on the rise.

The government data obtained by RLC revealed that of 3750 people strip searched by NSW Police over a 12 month period, 473 were Indigenous (including 150 women), of whom 96 were found to be under the age of 18 – one as young as 11.

In the previous financial year, 492 Indigenous people were subject to strip searches. Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up just 3.3 per cent of the Australian population – and just 2.9 per cent of NSW’s total population – about 21 per cent of the youths stopped by NSW Police were of Indigenous descent.

13 per cent of children strip searched in 2018-19 were of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background. That figure rose to 20 per cent in 2019-20.

RLC Police Accountability Practice solicitor Samantha Lee said the increased figures “paint a disturbing new picture of police strip-searches during Covid-19”.

“We already know that police are conducting strip searches on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at disproportionately high rates. But we now also know that this disparity is increasing,” she said.

Lee wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald on 20 February 2019: “Strip searches are happening everywhere: at music festivals, on the street, in the back of paddy wagons, in cities and rural areas. The Aboriginal Legal Service has raised grave concerns that Aboriginal children as young as 10 in remote communities across NSW are being subjected to full-body strip searches in full view of members of the public.”

Read the full article here. (Sydney Sentinel, 9 November 2020)