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NSW Police watchdog say strip searches of teenagers at music festivals were ‘illegal’

NSW Police watchdog say strip searches of teenagers at music festivals were ‘illegal’
May 9, 2020

A NSW Police watchdog investigation into strip searches at events including Splendour in the Grass in 2018 and the Lost City Music Festival in 2019 has found that they were unlawful.

The searches including one in which a 16-year-old Aboriginal boy was physically forced to remove his shorts and squat and another were a 16-year-old girl had been "completely humiliated".

The NSW Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) yesterday released the findings of five separate investigations into seven strip searches conducted at both music festivals between March 2015 and January 2019.

In one of the investigations, the LECC that the search of the Aboriginal boy was unlawful and revealed wide-spread failures in the training of NSW Police.

The LECC found officers at both music festivals did not have sufficient knowledge of the rules for strip searching under the Law Enforcement Powers and Responsibilities Act (LEPRA).

In addition, it found that officers at the Lost City Music Festival were found to be lacking sufficient experience and training in strip searching.

The report advised “this investigation demonstrates that whatever educational methods are being utilised by the NSWPF to inform officers of their powers and responsibilities … they are not being universally applied in the practice of policing.”

Of the 11 officers at the Lost City Music Festival who gave evidence, only one had ever stripsearched a child before the festival.

And of the eight officers involved in the Lost City festival strip searches, none had received any training since graduating from the police academy.

The LECC also found the Splendour in the Grass organisers didn't provide sufficient space for privacy during strip searches or enough information to parents and caregivers about their right to be present during a strip search of a minor.

The LECC did not make any findings of misconduct against any of the officers involved.

Its final report on strip searching is due later this year.

Related Articles

17th January 2020 - NSW Police have major presence at Tamworth Country Music Festival 2020

4th January 2020 - Police pleased with behaviour at New Zealand’s New Year celebrations

11th December 2019 - NSW Government to introduce drug amnesty bins but no pill testing at music festivals

14th November 2019 - Live music industry welcomes amendments to NSW Music Festivals Bill

22nd October 2019 - NSW Government’s failure to consult sees festivals threaten to move interstate

16th October 2019 - NSW Government to ignore Coroner’s pill testing recommendation as it reintroduces festival management laws

27th September 2019 - NSW Upper House vote sees music festival regulations ditched

25th September 2019 - Live Performance Australia advises that collaboration is key to safer music festivals

28th August 2019 - Inquiry calls for scrapping of NSW festival licencing scheme

19th July 2019 - NSW music festival deaths inquiry told trauma of strip-searches similar to that of sexual assaults

6th March 2019 - NSW music festivals get recognition at Australian Tourism Awards

20th January 2019 - NSW Government to require licensing of music festivals after drug deaths

19th September 2018 - NSW Premier announces panel to look into drug issues at music festivals

8th August 2018 - NSW Police Commissioner launches new strategy to redivert disengaged youth


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