NSW Police officers have been given a quota to conduct more than 241,000 personal searches and strip searches, new documents have revealed.
- Police officers fell short of their 2019 target by just 2,709 searches
- Personal searches include “frisk” style searches and strip searches
- NSW Police said the quotas were calculated on three-year averages
The documents, obtained by the NSW Greens under Freedom of Information laws, reveal the NSW Police Force set a quota of 421,632 searches, including strip searches, for the 2019 financial year.
Officers almost reached that target, performing 238,923 personal searches in that period.
A quota of 223,272 searches was set for the 2018 financial year, with 238,813 searches actually performed.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said the figures back up anecdotal reports of people, especially teenagers, being searched for no apparent reason.
“That’s a guaranteed recipe for the abuse of people’s human rights,” he said.
“These quotas will inevitably lead to the abuse of police powers and what these numbers show is that on hundreds of occasions every day there’s this micro abuse of police powers.”
Personal searches include “frisk” style searches as well as strip searches.
Any time a police officer conducts a search they must hold reasonable suspicion. (Supplied: NSW Police)
Nicholas Cowdery, the former Director of Public Prosecutions and now the President of the NSW Council of Civil Liberties, said quota-driven searches were totally inappropriate.
“It runs the risk of creating abuses of the intrusive powers that police have to investigate crime,” he said.
“It’s of great concern that police are arbitrarily interfering with people even when they don’t have a proper basis for exercising those coercive powers.”
The same documents also revealed NSW Police set a quota to perform 106,307 “move-on” orders in the 2019 financial year — up from a target of 85,668 the previous year.
Move-on orders allow police officers to direct a person to leave a public space.
The figures come just a week after the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission announced it was cutting short its public inquiry into police strip searches on minors.
A spokesperson for NSW Police defended the use of quotas and said the force had a business plan target which was calculated on a three-year average.
“Any time a police officer executes their search powers they must hold a reasonable suspicion,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“The NSW Police force deploys various proactive strategies as part of an ongoing commitment to reducing crime and the fear of crime in the community.”