Class action being brought against police for unlawful strip searching

Law firm Slater and Gordon is asking anyone who has been strip-searched at Splendour from 2016 to register for a class-action lawsuit.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding strip-searching at festivals for years now. It’s a harmful and degrading practice, and it’s now being asked, how lawful are they anyway?

NSW police could be in a lot of trouble here, and possibly be liable for tens of thousands of dollars worth of compensation, as the law firm asks young people to register for a class-action lawsuit.

Photograph- Mark Metcalfe:Getty

While the class action is focussed solely on Byron Bay festival, Splendour in the Grass, it comes following a 2020 investigation by Redfern Legal Centre, and Slater and Gordon, into NSW strip-searches in general over the past six years.

There is also a NSW Police Watchdog, the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC), which has already undergone an investigation into strip-searching at Splendour, and their findings are concerning.

According to the LECC, police lack the training and understanding of legal safeguards around strip searches. Yikes.

The law actually maintains a very strict test for when and where strip searches are lawful, and Alexis Goodstone, the principal solicitor at Redfern Legal Centre, suggests “strip searches in the context of music festivals, for reasonable suspicion of drug possession alone are not likely to be lawful.”

NSW Police search guidelines suggest that indication from a drug dog, is not reason enough to conduct a strip search – yet dogs seem to be a likely reason police have for strip-searching at Splendour.

There have also been incidents of festival-goers under 18 being strip-searched, where police lack appropriate training.

It’s all very icky, and we’re hoping a class-action lawsuit against the NSW Police will catalyse legislation change that has already been recommended and inquired into multiple times.

Slater and Gordon are asking for those who have been strip-searched at Splendour since 2016 to register for the lawsuit on their website.