5 June 2019
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) calls for the urgent reform of strip search laws in NSW.
CCL President, Pauline Wright, said “A strip search is an incredibly distressing experience and should only be used as a last resort. Unfortunately, strip searches are increasingly being used by police in NSW as a more or less routine procedure. Many innocent people are being hauled aside and subjected to this indignity with deep and lasting feelings of shame and trauma being suffered by some individuals.”
Ms Wright said “There is a groundswell within civil society to rein in this practice, with many organisations coming together in a campaign urging the reform of strip search laws in NSW. CCL wholeheartedly supports the campaign.”
On June 4, Redfern Legal Centre launched an open letter to the Minister for Police David Elliott MP. The signatories include 24 non-government organisations, and dozens of legal experts, including CCL Vice President Eugene Schofield-Georgeson and long-time Committee member Malcolm Ramage QC.
Schofield-Georgeson said “We are proud to endorse this statement, and the call for reform of the police use of strip searches in NSW. Strip searches are a profoundly invasive procedure, and should only be used with proper safeguards and sensitivity, when absolutely necessary, and as a last resort. Yet we have seen the number of strip searches rise by almost 50 per cent from 2014 to 2018. This includes children as young as ten years old being strip searched in front of two adult strangers. We have also seen a disturbing failure to ensure privacy during strip searches, with documented cases of strip searches being conducted behind a screen at train stations.”
“There have also been failures to take into account the personal needs of people being searched. Police are failing to give particular consideration to the danger of strip searching people who have experienced sexual abuse or family violence, and the additional trauma strip searches may cause in those circumstances. There is also a failure to offer gender choice in the searcher, for people who are transgender, intersex or gender diverse,” said Schofield-Georgson.
To learn more about Redfern Legal Centre’s campaign and their calls for reform, see their campaign website here.
Contacts in relation to this statement.
President NSW CCL
0418 292 656
0412 394 646