NSW Police have announced that 12 children were strip searched at Good Life Festival, an under-18s music festival held in Sydney on Saturday.
The news has worked to agitate the debate surrounding the NSW war on festivals, with many people challenging what they believe to be an abuse of police powers when conducting strip searches on minors.
NSW Police say that 12 children were strip searched at Good Life Festival, an under-18s event, with 11 of those searches resulting in the detection of drugs which included ice and MDMA.
Only late last year that it was announced that a state watchdog will be investigating NSW Police officers over allegations of unlawful strip searches of minors at music festivals. This ongoing review would not only examine the practice of strip searching minors, but would also explore the potential misuse of the power to strip search in general. It seems that while NSW Police believe they have done us all a favour in retrieving and confiscating these drugs, the way they have gone about it has caused much more harm than good.
While festival punters and parents are equally enraged, so too are a number of legal experts. A spokesperson for Redfern Legal Centre stated that if police were to strip search a minor, they should ensure a parent or guardian was present; however, this was not the case on Saturday.
“If they’re not going to have a parent or guardian present, then they must have a very good reason as to why that person isn’t going to be available. In this circumstance, the festival did not allow a parent or guardian in to accompany the child, so it is unclear what information was provided to the child that ensured [they] fully understood the testing they were being subjected to.”
Not only does this news raise concerns about the ways that the rights of festival-goers have been breached, but also begs to question whether these potentially unlawful searches will have lasting traumatic impacts on underage attendees.
“What we know is that in the majority of strip searches absolutely nothing is found, and what we do know for sure is that strip searches are traumatic, invasive and … therefore should only occur as an absolute last resort.”
It appears that the NSW Police’s war on festivals is set to continue with force.