The NSW police’s personal search program is fundamentally failing – with fresh data provided by the Police Minister to the Greens in the NSW Parliament showing that 76% of personal searches following a drug dog indication find no drugs and that 66% of all strip searches also turn up empty.
After months of pressure by the Greens NSW, the government was forced to hand over data showing that in the 12 months to 30 June 2019 police performed: – 5,362 strip searches and failed to find any drugs 3,546 times or in 66% of cases, and – 11,533 searches following a drug dog indication and failed to find any drugs 8,776 times or in 76% of cases.
Police advised that 99.5% of drug dog searches failed to find sufficient drugs to bring either a supply or “deemed supply” charge. Police could only identify 59 prosecutions for supply or “deemed supply” offences arising from the 11,533 searches following a drug dog indication. However, they were unable to provide data on the number of criminal prosecutions following a strip search.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said: “The NSW Police are routinely humiliating people with their aggressive searches and their own data proves that these searches are fundamentally failing to reduce drug supply.
“If any other part of the government had a program that failed three-quarters or two-thirds of the time then it would be scrapped, but somehow the police’s drug dog and strip search programs are in a special class.
“Strip searches are often highly traumatizing and, as the evidence before the ongoing LECC inquiry proves, regularly carried out illegally by police who don’t understand the law.
“It is not too strong to say that an illegally performed strip search, regardless of who does it, is potentially a sexual assault.
“Over the last 12 months NSW Police performed 1,350 more searches following a drug dog indication than in the previous year, and their false-positive rate shot up from 71% to 76%.
“After months of pressure from the Greens, the Police Minister was forced to hand over this data. It is no wonder he was so keen to hide it because it proves how ineffective police searches are.
“Of the 11,533 strip searches conducted after a police drug dog detection only 2,757 produced any illegal drugs, and the amounts found were overwhelmingly tiny leading only to cautions or minor possession charges. In just 59 cases were police able to justify a supply or “deemed supply” charge.
“We have heard story after story of traumatising experiences from people who’ve been strip searched across the state, many of them minors.
“The Greens have given notice of legislation in the NSW Parliament that will finally end the use of drug dogs without a warrant to radically overhaul the powers police use to conduct strip searches.
“It is now time for the rest of the Parliament to step up, listen to the evidence, and make the police respect peoples rights and follow the law,” Mr Shoebridge said.
CREDIT to NSW Greens