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Response From NSW Police Commissioner On Strip Search Inquiry

Response from NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller regarding strip search inquiry

We are unable to facilitate your request, as there is a current LECC hearing, it is not appropriate that the NSW Police Force comments.  Please find some previously provided information about strip searches below.  

  • The NSW Police Force is responsible for enforcing legislation on drug and weapon possession and supply. Police officers do not enjoy carrying out strip searches, but it is a power that has been entrusted to us and searches reveal drugs and weapons.
  • In 2018 alone, police detected a firearm and 93 knives or sharp cutting instruments, as well as illicit drugs on 1553 occasions during field strip searches.
  • People who are trying to hide such items frequently secrete them in private places, and the only way to locate them is by a strip search, which may involve asking the person to squat.
  • The use of drug-detection dogs in operational policing is a highly specialised field and NSWPF is committed to ensuring that our training is the best it can be and that the use of drug-detection dogs reflects world’s best practise. Police are trained not to rely solely on a drug-detection dog indication when they exercise their search powers.
  • Drug-detection dogs are a vital tool for detection of drugs, particularly at large-scale events. Over the last five years, in 85% of searches (and 82% of strip searches) following a drug-detection dog indication, either drugs were found on the person or the person admitted to recent use or possession.
  • Field strip searches represent fewer than 1% of the total number of all searches in NSW. Only about 20% of strip searches are initiated following a drug-detection dog indication. The majority of person searches carried out by police are not strip searches.
  • A strip search can only be undertaken when a police officer has the state of mind required by LEPRA. The legislation contains safeguards to preserve the privacy and dignity of members of the public.
  • There are additional safeguards for children and vulnerable people with which police must comply; officers are trained to deal with the public in a respectful and empathetic manner.

The NSW Police Force Person Search Manual is the principal document for the carrying out of person searches.

  • It provides guidance as to when and how personal searches must be carried out, as informed by legislation, the common law, and NSWPF policy.
  • Training for police in how to undertake a person search occurs at the Police Academy and is reinforced in a number of forums throughout an officer’s career.