Fresh data obtained by the office of Greens MP David Shoebridge has discovered the shockingly high numbers of people strip searched by NSW Police, with more than 5,400 people strip searched in 2017/18 alone. In that year more than 3,400 of those searched faced the humiliation and embarrassment of a strip search and nothing was found.

This data supports the growing call, including from Redfern Legal Centre’s ‘safe and sound’ campaign, to reform police powers to greatly reduce the number of strip searches.

Previous data available in regards police strip searches had been limited to strip searches as a result of drug dog operations; that data had also shown a dramatic doubling of those searches in recent years. The data set out below includes all strip searches, from drug dog operations and all other police operations.

Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“We have seen a staggering 47% increase in the number of police strip searches in the last four years, not as a result of law changes, but because of more aggressive policing.

“In just the last 12 months the total number of police strip searches has increased by almost 1,000, or almost a quarter.

“Over the past four years almost two thirds of all police strip searches were failures, with nothing being found.

“In the great majority of cases these strip searches are finding nothing, causing only embarrassment and humiliation to those being forced to strip naked in front of police.

“Government programs that get it wrong the great majority of times, especially where they are causing real damage, need to be brought to heel.

“Being strip searched is deeply humiliating, especially for young people who so often are the targets of this kind of discretionary policing.

“Strip searches are only meant to be done when they are urgent and necessary, but this requirement is clearly not being complied with by police who have performed thousands more searches in recent years.

“The Commissioner of Police needs to step up and explain what is driving police to force thousands of people to be unnecessarily strip searched and humiliated like this.

“Clearly the Police cannot be allowed to continue to abuse the rights of so many people in NSW, and Parliament needs to tighten these laws,’ Mr Shoebridge said.

FY Year[1] Strip Searches[2] Searches where Items Found Searches found nothing Failure rate as % of searches
14/15 3,735 1,335 2,400 64%
15/16 5,082 1,746 3,336 66%
16/17 4,456 1,613 2,843 64%
17/18 5,483 2,048 3,435 63%
FY Year Successful Prosecutions Successful Prosecutions as % of searches
14/15 1,151 31%
15/16 1,554 31%
16/17 1,472 33%
17/18 1,865 34%

[1] Data obtained by questions on notice by Greens MP David Shoebridge in NSW Parliament

[2] The total number of strip searches undertaken in New South Wales for any reason