Police sniffer dogs at the enterance of Splendour In The Grass. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs/ The Northern Star
Police sniffer dogs at the enterance of Splendour In The Grass. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs/ The Northern Star Patrick Gorbunovs

Splendour cop 'seriously careless' with strip search: Inquiry

A police officer at last year's Splendour in the Grass music festival where a teenage girl was forced to strip naked has been labelled "seriously careless" at an official inquiry.

The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) is currently investigating the highly controversial search on the 16-year-old girl during which she was compelled to strip and squat in front of a police officer after being mistakenly picked out by a drug dog.

The LECC, sitting in Sydney for the four-day inquiry, is probing whether the officers involved in the search at the popular northern NSW festival acted unlawfully or unreasonably and if the conduct amounted to "serious misconduct".

The inquiry has so far heard that the girl -- who says she was "humiliated" by the search -- was one of several children who were strip-searched at the event without a "support person" present, which is a breach of police search powers.

The inquiry has also heard that officers did not adequately consider the elements of "urgency" or "seriousness" under the LEPRA powers, before conducting strip searches.

On Tuesday, one of the officers at the festival, codenamed BR3, was labelled "seriously careless" for his "wholly inadequate" reporting of the strip search made in the COPS system.

It heard that BR3 entered information about the search on the 16-year-old at Tweed Heads police station on the evening of July 20, 2018, alongside a female officer, known at BR4, who carried out the strip search on the complainant in a "private room" at the festival earlier that day.

There were "vital pieces" of the COPS entry missing, the inquiry was told, including any mention of a strip search being done. The entry also incorrectly stated that the teenager had admitted to smoking cannabis when she had "made no such admission".

"It was an error, I've obviously rushed it," the officer told the inquiry.

"You were obviously very careless, I suggest it's seriously careless. It's capable of being very misleading," Chief Commissioner Michael Adams said

Earlier, BR3 told the inquiry he received a short briefing at the start of the festival but didn't ask for, "operational orders", despite never having working at a music festival before.

"That's an error on my behalf," the police officer told the inquiry.

The inquest continues.



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