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1.5k children strip-searched in 7 years, law research reveals

NSW police strip-searched the equivalent of 51 school classes in seven years, a new report from the Redfern Legal Centre revealed.

user iconNaomi Neilson 25 March 2024 Big Law
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Police officers in NSW have strip-searched 1,546 children, including a 10-year-old boy, in the last seven years, Redfern Legal Centre’s (RLC) solicitors Samantha Lee and Josh Raj found.

The most recent statistics also revealed children as young as 12 years old were strip-searched by police, and there was a 50 per cent increase in the number of young girls searched.

The figures are more staggering when compared to data that revealed the younger the child, the less likely an item will be found.


In a statement, Lee said the statistics underscored the need for “systemic legislative change” to reform the practice, “particularly in the treatment of children and First Nations communities”.

“It is simply unacceptable that these figures continue to overrepresent First Nations children disproportionately,” Lee added.

First Nations children made up almost 45 per cent of children strip-searched, despite only 6.3 per cent of the population aged 1017.

The youngest girls to be searched were 12 years old, including nine First Nations children and one non-First Nations child.

The RLC is calling on the government to “immediately pause” the strip-searching of children while it finds a way to “ensure the rights and dignity of children are upheld and protected”.

“Subjecting children to strip-searches is harmful. The law must change to protect children.

“Strip-searches constitute an invasive, humiliating and harmful process, and should only be used in exceptional circumstances when no other alternatives exist,” Lee said.