Ban Strip Searches in NSW

Corrective Services NSW, NSW Government

Routine strip searches represent a serious breach of human rights and undermine Australia’s ratification of Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT).

In her 2020 report, The NSW Inspector of Custodial Services, Fiona Rafter, found a regime of frequent and routine strip searches at the Mary Wade Correctional Centre.

The inspection team found:

  • That strip searches are being performed after women leave and return to the correctional centre, and after the conclusion of contact and non-contact visits.

  • There is no empirical evidence to support the effectiveness of strip-searches in finding contraband. For example, no contraband was identified by way of strip searching after visits between 22 October 2018 and 22 October 2019.

  • Corrective Services NSW policy only requires strip searches to be recorded centrally when contraband is found. Therefore there is no accurate measurement of the number of strip searches undertaken inside the centre.

  • Strip searches cause unnecessary distress and infringe upon the dignity of the individual. They result in degradation, humiliation and victimisation of female prisoners. Many women in Australian prisons have experienced abuse prior to their incarceration and strip searching may trigger these traumatic experiences.

  • The practice of strip searching is an abuse of power of the state over vulnerable people. Authorities are replicating dynamics of coercion and control as strip searching is used as a form of extra judicial punishment through sexual humiliation.

Petition by

To: Corrective Services NSW, NSW Government
From: [Your Name]

We demand the following:

1. That routine strip searching of women prisoners is brought to an end.
2. Corrective services apologises and compensates women they have assailed.
3. The state government ends the wide-spread strip searching practices by police in custody, music festivals, and on the streets.
4. Body scanners are introduced to replace invasive strip searches.