A total of 11 children were strip-searched at an under-18s festival in Sydney on Sunday, in what is being slammed as a “humiliating and traumatising” experience.
NSW Police said they strip-searched 11 attendees at the Good Life/Lost City 2020 festival, an event for teenagers aged 13 to 17.
Police informed the ABC that they conducted strip-searches in accordance with the law, however legal experts question this.
“In this circumstance, the festival did not allow a parent or guardian in to accompany the child, so it is unclear what information was provided to the child that ensured that fully understood the testing they were being subjected to,” Sam Lee, police powers solictor at the Redfern Legal Centre told the broadcaster.
“There is no excuse for children to be exposed to this humiliating, traumatising and potentially illegal practice,” NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge said in a statement.
Shoebridge, who also leads the anti-sniffer dog movement Sniff Off, said strip-searching was an ineffective police tactic in keeping the community safe from drug harm.
“Two-thirds of the time, strip searches turn up nothing and when they do find something, it’s more than likely drugs for personal use,” he said.
“What police will do is teach an entire generation of young people to rightly distrust the police force.”
Among those strip-searched were children as young as 14.
Police said a total of 14 teenagers were caught with prohibited drugs at the festival, out of around 12,000 attendees.
They charged a 14-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy with alleged drug supply after they were allegedly found with 31 and 75 MDMA capsules, respectively.
While police did conduct a strip-search operation at the festival from 3:30pm and 10pm, they did not actually perform drug or breath tests on individuals.
“NSW Police is aware a private contractor, engaged by the event organisers, conducted drug and alcohol testing at the festival as part of the overall safety strategy,” they said in a statement.
Around 30 children were strip-searched at the same festival last year. An Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) inquiry found this practice to be potentially unlawful.Image: Facebook / Good Life Presents