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People Strip Searched At Splendour In The Grass Could Be Entitled To Thousands Of Dollars

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People Strip Searched At Splendour In The Grass Could Be Entitled To Thousands Of Dollars

Lawyers are preparing to launch a class action lawsuit against New South Wales Police over their handling of strip searching at Splendour in the Grass.

Strips searches are a common sight at music festivals in the state as authorities try to find illegal substances being stashed in...hard to reach places.

However, from 2016 onwards, lawyers allege the police who patrolled the annual event near Bryon Bay conducted this practice unlawfully.

Ebony Birchall, class actions lawyer at Slater and Gordon told Triple J's Hack: "We think that people who have undergone an unlawful strip search will be entitled to substantial compensation, so in serious cases, the compensation could be tens of thousands of dollars.

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"We haven't seen a class action in relation to unlawful strip searches in Australia.

Credit: Splendour in the Grass/Instagram
Credit: Splendour in the Grass/Instagram

"So we think this is a really unique and important way to clarify strip search law, and to highlight this issue, and importantly, to get compensation for people who have been impacted by these unlawful searches."

The Redfern Legal Centre says NSW Police has doubled the amount of times they use strip searches to determine if someone has drugs on their person.

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However, this practice is only justified when the 'circumstances [are] very serious and urgent'.

Officers will employ drug dogs to first see if there is a scent of a substance and if the dog sits down next to someone, that usually indicates they have smelt something.

However, drug dog accuracy has been questioned in the past, with one study suggesting the margin of error with using these animals is as high as 63 per cent.

Credit: Hugh Peterswald/Pacific Press/Alamy Live News
Credit: Hugh Peterswald/Pacific Press/Alamy Live News
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Chad attended Splendour in the Grass back in 2016 and he was stopped by officers when they told him a drug dog had sat next to him.

He told the Triple J programme: "I didn't actually have to take my shirt off at all, it was just straight 'Take your pants off, turn around, bend over, and open up'.

"It felt like an invasion of my privacy, like my dignity was just gone for that moment in time and I actually felt quite vulnerable," Chad said.

"At no point in time was I given any rights or asked if I had consent to what they were doing."

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The class action lawyers from Slater and Gordon are looking for other stories like Chad's so they can build a case against NSW Police.

Officers have been accused of conducting strip searches on people even though the individual might not have met the threshold for one.

Slater and Gordon is asking anyone who was strip searched at a Splendour in the Grass event from 2016 onwards to visit their site and explain what happened to them.

Featured Image Credit: Splendour in the Grass/Instagram

Topics: Australia

Stewart Perrie
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