Aboriginal children as young as 10 are being strip-searched by police.
In some remote areas of NSW, where there’s large Aboriginal populations, we’ve had reports of young people who are rugged-up on a cold winter’s night, wearing hoodies, beanies and gloves, being unfairly stopped and searched by police, with no apparent justification.
We’ve known for a long time that in places like Bourke and Brewarrina, around 90% of strip-searches result in a ‘no find’, whilst in Moree, the rate of unsuccessful searches is as high as 95%.
The excessive use of strip-searching is causing extreme emotional and psychological harm in Aboriginal communities, particularly for children and young people. And as a recently released report shows, only 30% of strip-searches in 2017-18 ended in a criminal charge.
The ALS is extremely concerned about reports of children being strip-searched, this violates child rights principles and we’re calling on the NSW Government to improve legal safe guards.
A recommendation is that police should record the reasons for any strip search taking place on body worn video prior to commencing the search. This would be a step in the right direction towards increasing accountability.
But legislative change alone will not fix the root of the problem. Cultural change aimed at increasing respect for the rights of Aboriginal people and creating proper accountability for any breaches is critical to addressing the issue.