When PEDESTRIAN.TV contacted the office of NSW Police Minister David Elliott last month, seeking comment on a police watchdog inquest into the potentially unlawful strip search of a 16-year-old girl, we were told the minister had no statement to make while hearings were underway.

That changed today, when Elliott told reporters he’d want his young children to face strip searches if police deemed it necessary.

“I’ve got young children and if I thought the police felt they were at risk of doing something wrong I’d want them strip-searched,” Elliott said.

His comment came during a press conference discussing recently obtained police data, which shows more than 100 girls have faced NSW Police strip searches since 2016. That number includes two twelve-year-olds.

The data, obtained by Redfern Legal Centre under freedom of information laws, also shows 66% of strip searches conducted on women in that time frame failed to uncover any illicit substances.

The strip search conducted on the 16-year-old girl at the centre of the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) inquiry didn’t result in the discovery of any drugs, either.

What was the result, then? An extremely harrowing experience, according to a statement read by counsel assisting the commissioner, Peggy Dwyer:

I realised I was going to have to get naked in front of this police officer. I could not believe that this was happening to me. I could not stop crying. I was completely humiliated…

When the police officer had finished searching my underwear and leotard, she told me to squat on the ground. I squatted down in front of her. She then squatted down and looked underneath me…

I feel that I can no longer trust police. I now feel really wary about police and I believe I would have difficulty reporting a problem to police, in case I am falsely accused again. I try not to think about the incident because it is distressing and upsetting to think about it.

Despite all of that, Elliott today defended NSW Police’s interpretation of the “well used” laws regarding strip searches.

“Of course they haven’t always been used according to the standard operating procedures and anybody who feels that has been done erroneously has got some reply to that,” he added.

The LECC report on the legality of the strip search conducted on the 16-year-old girl is expected in the coming weeks.

Image: Stephen Saphore / AAP Image