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Greens draft bill to overhaul strip-search laws

A consultation paper for the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Amendment (Drug Detection Dogs and Strip Searches) Bill will be released, calling on submissions on the proposed reform.

Strip searches came under major public scrutiny following allegations police illegally subjected a 16-year-old girl to the procedure at Splendour in the Grass music festival in 2018, and unlawfully strip searched three boys, aged 15 to 17, at an under-18s event in Sydney Olympic Park last year.

NSW upper house Greens MP David Shoebridge says strip searches are a "serious invasion of privacy and dignity".

NSW upper house Greens MP David Shoebridge says strip searches are a “serious invasion of privacy and dignity”.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

Following an inquest in the drug-related deaths of six young music festivalgoers, Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame also recommended strip searches be limited to when police suspected a person of being involved in supplying illegal drugs rather than possessing them for personal use.

Under state law, police can only conduct field strip searches if the urgency and seriousness of the situation requires it. A senior NSW Police officer who gave evidence before a Law Enforcement Conduct Commission probe into the practice told the public inquiry the legislation was too vague.

“It should be spelled out what seriousness and urgency is, because I’m sure everyone in this room would have a different opinion,” the Detective Chief Inspector, whose name was suppressed by the commission, said during the inquiry.

Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told the Daily Telegraph in November that curtailing police powers could result in a rise in knife crime, saying there would be a “generation of kids that have no respect for authority”.

“They need to have respect and a little bit of fear of law enforcement,” Mr Fuller said.

He is currently overseeing a review into the practice.

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