The Redfern Legal Centre has released data obtained under freedom of information laws showing that 107 children were strip searched by the NSW Police Force between 1 July 2021 and 30 July 2023. 31 girls between 10 to 17 were strip searched, and 107 children were strip searched in total.
Data shows that there was an overall 13% increase in strip searches over any age group and gender, with a 30% increase in strip searches conducted on women aged 10-17. Three girls aged 12 and six girls aged 13 were strip searched. 4,591 strip searches were conducted over the two-year period.
First Nations individuals made up 14% of the total number of people who were strip searched, despite making up only 3% of the NSW population.
Redfern Legal Centre Senior Solicitor Samantha Lee said, “Strip searches constitute an invasive, humiliating, and harmful process and should only be used in exceptional circumstances when no other alternative exists.”
Lee also noted,“The significant increase in strip-searching girls is a matter of huge concern. Evidence demonstrates how traumatising such an invasive search can be. The sheer number of strip searches indicates the law is not being applied as intended by NSW Parliament, which intended it to be a last resort.”
“There is no situation in which a police offer should be strip searching an underage person, and in the vast majority of circumstances strip searches are a heavy-handed wielding of police powers,” USyd SRC’s Women’s Officer Iggy Boyd told Honi.
“Strip searches harm everybody who is subjected to them, particularly young women. Arbitrary use of overbearing police powers must end and the cops must be held accountable.”