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Media Release - Reports in relation to the monitoring of NSWPF strip searches

LECC Reports in relation to the monitoring of NSWPF investigations involving strip searches

Media Release

21.07.2020

LECC Reports in relation to the monitoring of NSWPF investigations involving strip searches

The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission furnished two reports to Parliament today in relation to its monitoring of NSWPF investigations into complaints about strip searches conducted by police. 

These reports form part of the Commission’s broad based inquiry into the conduct of strip searches by police officers and questions surrounding the training and education they receive. 

Strike Force Blackford 

In Strike Force Blackford the NSWPF investigated 5 separate complaints involving strip searches of young people. The Commission monitored the investigations into four of the incidents: 

  1. The strip search of a female at the 2018 Midnight Mafia concert;
  2. The strip search of a male and female at the 2019 Midnight Mafia concert;
  3. The strip search of a female at the Secret Garden festival in 2019; and
  4. The strip search of a female at the Hidden Music Festival in 2019.

 No drugs were found on any of the individuals strip searched in the above matters, although a number of them were nevertheless banned from the festival. Adverse findings were made against involved police officers in three of the four above matters (1, 3 and 4).  Those findings included insufficient grounds for the search, insufficient grounds for a banning notice, inadequate record keeping by police and breach of the NSWPF Code of Conduct and Ethics. The Commission was satisfied with the investigations and outcomes.

Arrest, Detention and Strip Searching of Two Female Protesters on 10/11/2017

This incident gave rise to both an internal police complaint and a second, broader complaint about the treatment of the two females, who had been at a protest at Eveleigh against the treatment of refugees when they were arrested and conveyed to a police station where they were strip searched and released without charge.

In May 2018 an initial investigation resulted in Not Sustained findings against the searching officers. The Commission was not satisfied that the investigation had been properly conducted and requested a further investigation.    

A further investigation resulted in adverse findings on other issues and, after further representations by the Commission, adverse findings on the conduct of the strip searches as well. Ultimately, the Commission was satisfied that the findings and action taken against the relevant officers were appropriate.

These reports can be accessed on the Commission’s website.

Further Action

The Commission looks forward to receiving a systems-focussed report being prepared by the lead investigator in Strike Force Blackford, expected to be completed in August 2020.

The Commission will complete its final report in relation to its broad based inquiry into police strip searches in late 2020.