Strip Searches, Police Power and the Infliction of Harm: An Analysis of the New South Wales Strip Search Regime
Police misuse of strip search powers at music festivals, at train stations, in police vehicles and at other locations has been subject to sustained public attention in recent years. This article traces the evolution of strip search practices in New South Wales, explores the legal and policy context in which they have developed, highlights the individual and social harms arising from them and discusses the need for fundamental law reform. We argue that recent controversies regarding police strip searches and drug detection dog operations in New South Wales show policing to be simultaneously a law-making and a law-abusing power. By examining concepts concerned with how police construct their own working rules, police data and testimony provided to the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC), we explain how police justify conducting strip searches that should otherwise be considered unlawful.
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