11 November 2020
Media Release: Almost 2 million reasons to Sniff Off
The Greens have today presented our bill to Parliament to stop the worst excesses of the drug dog and strip search schemes and introduce a much needed corrective to the creep of police powers that has led to almost 2 million searches since 2013.
The Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Amendment (Drug Detection Dogs and Strip Searches) Bill 2020 prohibits the use of drug detection dogs without a warrant, limits the circumstances in which strip searches can occur and prohibits strip searches of children under 16. It also prohibits targets for oppressive powers including searches and move on orders.
Since 2013 police have had targets to undertake 1,784,292 searches. In that period they actually undertook 1,936,782 searches. That’s one search for every 4 people in NSW.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said:
“People have been calling for urgent changes to police practice on drug dogs for many years now, and it’s time for legislation to fix what the police are unwilling to address.
“Investigations by the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission have shown the drug dog and strip search programs are resulting in large numbers of unlawful searches each year, as well as causing significant trauma to members of the public.
“The world is listening to the Black Lives Matter movement, calling for curbs on excessive police powers, this bill pushes NSW down that path.
“We’ve got young women, victims of sexual assault, being required to strip by heavily armed police officers for a scheme where 66.1% of searches find nothing.
“For many of these people the “reasonable grounds” the officer had to strip search them was that they were attending a music festival, or catching a train. That’s just not good enough.It shouldn’t be controversial to say that people should not be strip searched by heavily armed police officers unless there is a bloody good reason.
“Strip searches are supposed to be a last resort but it’s clear to anyone watching that they are routine policy.
“After all of the shocking stories we have heard about police searches and drug dogs we’re hoping this will finally be the end of the bipartisan backing of these oppressive police powers” Mr Shoebridge said.