NSW Police Strip Searched 122 Underage Girls For Drugs, Data Shows
Police across Australia deploy various tactics to stop people from trafficking and consuming drugs.
That can come in the form of using sniffer dogs, X-ray machines, drug detection hardware and other methods.
One of the more controversial tactics is strip searching. If an officer pulls you aside for this, it will usually result in you having to take off your clothes so that they can inspect your body to see if you're hiding drugs.
According to the Redfern Legal Centre, the law states that a strip search is a last resort.
New data has revealed that more than 120 underage girls were forced to undergo a strip search since 2016 in New South Wales.
The numbers were obtained under Freedom of Information laws by the Redfern Legal Centre and highlights that two of the children strip searched were just 12 years old.
While the information could be considered quite damning against the New South Wales Police, the state's Police Minister doesn't see it that way. In fact, he totally supports it.
"I've got young children and if I thought the police felt they were at risk of doing something wrong I'd want them strip-searched," Police Minister David Elliott said.
"Having been Minister for Juvenile Justice, we have 10-year-olds involved in terrorism activity."
The law states that police are required to have a parent or guardian present if the person they'd like to strip search is between the ages of 10 and 18.
According to the ABC, if they fear the person could destroy or get rid of the drugs then they are permitted to strip search the underage person without a parent or guardian.
Redfern Law Centre's head of police accountability, Samantha Lee, said this data needs to be taken seriously.
"We don't know the circumstances of these particular cases, they are just raw data," she said.
"But certainly they do highlight some major concerns in terms of the law and the fact that the law needs to change to protect all children from strip searches."
A damning case was brought to light last month when a 16-year-old girl told of her humiliation and terror when she was strip searched before a music festival because a sniffer dog detected she was carrying drugs.
After telling officers her age, they didn't contact a parent or guardian before launching the strip search.
The girl told an inquiry: "I could not believe this was happening to me; I could not stop crying; I was completely humiliated. I was absolutely shocked that the police would do this to me."
After the search it was declared that the girl didn't have drugs on her person.
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman said that while he defends the use of strip searches, there needs to be a look in whether the legislation needs to be amended.
"Strip searches are an important investigative tool but obviously we have to get the balance right, they need to be used only where appropriate," he said.
"They can be invasive, they can be stressful, that's why we have the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission doing a general review of strip searches and operations in NSW and I look forward to its report."
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