NSW Police have admitted that their officers have been in breach of their powers to conduct strip searches, and neglecting to inform people they are performing these searches.
The NSW Police’s Lessons Learned Unit has issued a report explaining that due to an ambiguity in the definition of ‘strip-search’ in state legislation, they have left it to individual officers to interpret the law.
There has been approximately a 50% increase in police strip-searches in four years. Finally, the NSW Police have admitted to a breach of their powers.
The report says, “Currently the legislation is open to interpretation and there is evidence of operational orders instructing officers that the removal of one piece of clothing constitutes a strip-search. Likewise, there is [sic] operation orders suggesting that an indication from a drug dog is enough justification to conduct a strip-search”.
Under the NSW Police’s governing legislation, the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002, ‘strip-search’ is defined as: “a search of a person or of articles in the possession of a person that may include:
(a) requiring the person to remove all of his or her clothes, and
(b) an examination of the person’s body… and of those clothes”.
To remove any lack of clarity within the current system, the report has confirmed a re-education process within NSW Police involving step-by-step instructional stickers issued to officers as well as screensavers being displayed on officers’ computers.
All training material relating to strip searches is also currently under review, and the report has recommended the creation of more concrete “best practice” guidelines plus their implementation via educational videos, products, and more.
This news emerges following the emergence of the Safe and Sound campaign to end unnecessary strip searches by the NSW Police.
Undoubtedly it does not do wonders for the relationship between the Police and NSW communities, especially following news that NSW Police have raked in almost $13 million during the ‘War on Festivals’.