NSW Police condemned for incorrect records on strip searches at Lost City Music Festival


December 03, 2019 18:10:32

The commissioner of a misconduct inquiry into strip searches conducted on minors at a Sydney music festival has slammed a lack of police record keeping as “baffling”.

Key points:

  • An inquiry is investigating strip searches conducted at the Lost City Music Festival held at Sydney Olympic Park in February
  • Today the commissioner heard records on how many officers were involved in strip searches were inaccurate
  • One detective sergeant admitted he did not ask one young person if they wanted a parent or guardian present during a strip search

The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) is holding public hearings into strip searches conducted at the Lost City Music Festival at Sydney Olympic Park in February.

Some of the searches took place after security officers rounded up a group of eight young people in the afternoon, including one who had unwittingly sold a pink pill to an undercover guard, and called police.

The LECC today heard an entry on the police database COPS about the incident incorrectly listed only one officer as being involved in the subsequent searches.

A detective sergeant given the codename GEN7 told the commission that was inaccurate because when he attended there were “at least five or six” officers there.

Commissioner Michael Adams QC said this defied “record keeping 101” that when a police power is exercised, the officers executing it must be identified.

“I understand the system could be better, but this is not rocket science,” Mr Adams said.

“Do you agree with me this is absolutely fundamental to the maintenance of proper records?”

The witness agreed.

“I must say I find it baffling,” Mr Adams added.

Another officer, a detective sergeant who has spent 26 years in the NSW Police Force, admitted in his evidence he took no steps to ask one of the youths whether he wanted a parent or guardian to be present prior to being stripsearched.

The officer admitted he was aware of this requirement under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act, but defended his actions when he was grilled by the commissioner.

“I was of the view that delaying the searching of these persons would result in evidence being concealed or destroyed,” he said.

The commission yesterday heard the boy, given the codename GEN15C, claimed he was searched by an officer who did not wear gloves and who touched his testicles and rubbed his buttocks during the inspection.

The officer denied this and said none of the young people were ever fully naked, but were simply asked to pull their underwear out at the front for a visual inspection.

“I was satisfied that was enough,” he said.

“That for me was keeping with their privacy and was sufficient for the purposes of the search.”

Of the 31 searches performed at the festival, a parent, guardian or independent support person was only present in six cases.

The inquiry continues.









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