This New Campaign Wants To End Strip Searches At Music Festivals, And Everywhere Else
These are your rights when the cops ask to strip search you.
Here’s a horrifying fact: from 2016 to 2017, the number of strip searches conducted in NSW doubled — despite the fact that the majority of these searches find no drugs. That’s pretty scary, which is why the Redfern Legal Centre has today launched a new campaign aimed at ending excessive strip searches at music festivals (and everywhere else) once and for all.
The new campaign is called Safe & Sound, and it came about after the Redfern Legal Centre was swamped with complaints from people who’ve been subjected to humiliating strip searches by police, often in public places and without adequate privacy — something that’s actually meant to be prohibited by law.
“Our service has been contacted by many people subjected to strip searches, who were left feeling humiliated, scared and traumatised,” RLC lawyer Samantha Lee said. “Worst of all, nothing was found on them and police failed to follow correct legal procedure.”
Unfortunately, many festival-goers don’t actually know what that correct legal procedure is, and the law itself is quite vague. Safe & Sound is aiming to fix that, both by commissioning research on ways to improve NSW strip search laws, and also by providing ordinary people with the legal resources they need in order to know their rights when it comes to strip searches.
During the summer music festival season, the organisation plans to launch an app called Music Festivals Rights Advisor, which will include a breakdown of those rights. The website, which you can find here, already contains fact sheets about police powers, which outline what cops are allowed to do with sniffer dogs, and when strip searching you.
For example, this fact sheet makes it crystal clear that police officers who want to strip search you must tell you why, find a private area for the strip search, and find a police officer of the same sex as you to conduct the search. If they haven’t done these things, you’re absolutely within your rights to demand that they do.
There’s also a fact sheet on how to make complaints about police, if you’re concerned that an officer hasn’t followed the rules when strip searching you.
You can find out more about Safe & Sound, as well as ways to support the campaign, at its website here.