Should young kids be strip-searched?
POLITICIANS are weighing in on the issue of children as young as 12 being stripped-searched by police.
As the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) continues its investigation of an incident which involved the search on a 16-year-old girl, at a Byron Bay festival in 2018 to see if police acted unlawfully, or whether their conduct amounted to serious misconduct, politicians on sides debated the ethics of the situation.
The girl was not found to be carrying any drugs and, while giving evidence at the inquiry, the officer who conducted the search conceded it was likely unlawful.
The shocking news that more than 120 girls under the age of 18 have been strip searched by NSW Police since 2016, was revealed by the Redfern Legal Centre.
The RLC obtained data under freedom of information laws which revealed two of the 122 children strip-searched were just 12 years old and eight were 13 years old.
In regular circumstances, police can strip search children between the ages of 10 and 18 in NSW only while a parent, guardian or support person present.
Lismore MP Janelle Saffin said she was shocked by the news that children were bring strip-searched.
"It must be done according to the law," she said.
"Children should have an adult present."
Federal Member for Richmond, Justine Elliot, is a former police officer and she agreed with Ms Saffin.
"Police must always act within the law and conform with the Commissioner's guidelines," she said.
Last month NSW Police Force issued a statement where is said they are responsible for enforcing legislation on drug and weapon possession and supply.
"People who are trying to hide such items frequently secrete them in private places," a representative said.
"The only way to locate them is by a strip search, which may involve asking the person to squat."
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman defended the use of strip searches but acknowledged the policy was being reviewed.
It is understood police officers conducted 5,362 strip searches at festivals in the year to 1 July 2019 and two thirds of those searches failed to yield any prohibited drugs or dangerous items.