Australia With focus on music festival strip-searches, let's not forget this important issue
'I could not believe this was happening': Teen recounts Splendour strip-search
The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission is investigating claims a 16-year-old girl was illegally strip-searched at the Byron Bay music festival last year,The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission on Monday heard that police asked the teenager her age and took her identification but didn't call her parents or anyone else capable of caring for her, in breach of their search powers.
Ongoing public scrutiny is shedding much needed light on the highly invasive policing practice of strip-searching. But an important issue is being lost in the current debate – race.
Police are required to record information about searches on a database called COPS. Yet, under oath at recent Law Enforcement Conduct Commission hearings police admitted they are not recording legally required details like the justification for the search. And in circumstances where nothing is found, police may not be making a record at all.
Falls Festival, Splendour in the Grass may leave NSW 'nanny state'
Australia's biggest music events threaten to pull out of NSW and accuse the Berejiklian Government — which is preparing to introduce tough new festival laws — of "endless nanny state interference".Laneway Festival, Falls Festival and Splendour in the Grass are among a coalition of music festivals that say they have been left with no choice but to "consider their options" regarding relocation.
This lack of accurate data means many things, but it could also mean reported strip-search figures (5,362 strip searched during the 2018-19 financial year) are only the tip of the iceberg. The under reporting of strip-searches is an issue raised by Redfern Legal Centre, especially when it comes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other racial minorities.
Figures obtained by the centre under access to information laws reveal that out of a total of 9,891 recorded strip-searches over a two-year period (2016-2017 to 2017-2018), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accounted for 10 per cent of those searched. Yet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represent less than 3 per cent of the total NSW population.
Officer who strip searched 19 revellers admits no legal justification
Out of those searches only one item was found: a single antidepressant tablet.The revelation that more than 90 per cent of strip-searches at the 2018 festival turned up nothing prompted Michael Adams, QC, chief commissioner of NSW's police watchdog, to suggest that officers' justification for the "invasive" procedures were little more than "a gut feeling".
There were also 82 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children strip-searched (10 to 17 years) over a four-year financial period during 2015-2016 to 2018-2019, including children aged 10, 11 and 12 years. Evidence provided at the LECC could mean this figure is much higher.
Due to limited data, it is difficult obtaining accurate figures regarding the strip-searching of other racial minorities. When a police officer stops and searches a person they should record the person’s “racial appearance”, which requires an officer to make their own assessment as to what a person’s racial identity may be.
Under access to information laws, the centre sought a four-year break-down of strip-search by "racial appearance" categories (from 2015-2016 to 2018-2019). The figures reveal some of the following totals: Caucasian (64 per cent) followed by Aboriginal (8.8 per cent), Middle Eastern (8.7 per cent), East Asian (5.3 per cent), Mediterranean (3.5 per cent), Pacific Islander (2.4 per cent) and Black African (0.5 per cent).
Sniffer dogs work overtime on biosecurity
Agriculture department officials insist Australia's biosecurity dogs are working more efficiently despite numbers being halved in recent years.Labor senator Glenn Sterle picked up the trail after Australia's inspector-general of biosecurity found dog numbers had almost halved between 2012 and 2017.
Since the above data is not "known place of birth" or "mother of father’s place of origin", it is difficult to compare such figures with Census data and determine whether racial minorities are being disproportionately impacted.
But what we do know from the LECC hearings is strip search data needs to be scrutinised and may be an underestimation of the actual number of searches. With significant and needed attention being directed towards the strip-searching of people at music festivals, it is important we don’t lose sight of the issue that some people are more policed than others. The figures show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been disproportionately subjected to invasive, harmful and possibly unlawful searches. And now thanks to the LECC we can assume that this disproportion may be much greater than we think.
Samantha Lee is a lawyer and the head of police accountability at the Redfern Legal Centre.
NSW police strip-search data shows lowest drug prosecution rate in seven years .
Of more than 5,000 strip searches conducted by NSW police in the past financial year, less than a third found any illicit drugs, new data shows. More than two-thirds of strip searches carried out by NSW police fail to find any illicit drugs, according to data obtained by the ABC.The data also shows less than 0.5 per cent of drug searches undertaken following detection by a police dog result in drug prosecutions. require(["inlineoutstreamAd", "c.
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