Documents obtained by The Redfern Legal Centre under freedom of information show NSW Police have been told to film people being strip searched.
Police presence in NSW, particularly Sydney, has ramped up in 2019. Reports of strip searching tents at the city’s Central train station and in influx of drug dog operations has lead to increasing concerns about the role of police in the state.
According to the documents, reported here by The Guardian, an officer conducting a strip search is instructed to turn off their body-worn camera, however “the support office is to record the search using a [body-worn video] camera.”
The documents reportedly state that officers should ensure the person’s privacy, making sure the footage isn’t viewed by anyone “without a lawful reason to do so.”
“A person’s privacy is not a sufficient reason to cease filming a strip search conducted in the lawful execution of an officer’s duty,” it states.
Footage captured by the body-worn cameras is deleted after six months unless its tagged by a police officer as evidence.
It is, of course, important (and explicitly dictated!) that police consider the dignity of anyone they interact with. Unfortunately for the general public, privacy appears to be something only tangentially related to dignity.
Last month a 53-year-old Sydney man was awarded over $110,000 in damages after it was ruled he was wrongfully submitted to an “invasive” strip search.
New South Wales Police has been contacted for comment.