NSW Police have hit back after they were criticised for strip-searching teenagers at a Sydney music festival by revealing most of the revellers were caught in possession of drugs.
More than 40 searches were conducted at the Good Life Lost City music festival at Sydney Showground over the weekend including 12 strip-searches, a NSW Police spokeswoman told AAP on Monday.
The festival at Sydney Olympic Park is an under-18’s only event.
Of the 12 teenagers strip-searched, 11 were found to have drugs or alcohol on them, police said in a statement.
A 14-year-old girl was allegedly caught with 31 MDMA capsules concealed internally, a 17-year-old female had 2.2 grams of MDMA and a 16-year-old girl allegedly had four grams of the drug ice concealed internally.
Police also allege 75 MDMA capsules were found on a 17-year-old boy before he was strip-searched while a knife was found concealed in his shoe.
A 15-year-old female allegedly had a bag of alcohol hidden in her underwear.
NSW Police said if someone retrieves an item that’s been concealed internally themselves that’s still classified as a strip-search.
Greens speak out
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge on Monday accused the police of abusing young people by exposing them to the highly-intrusive procedure.
“We know from communication from some of those children that in the course of those strip-searches they were made to undertake the humiliating process of squatting so the police could observe them from those humiliating angles,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“Were any of them carrying drugs that would in anyway justify this kind of ritual abuse of children?”
Mr Shoebridge claims police are routinely breaching the law and likely exposing NSW taxpayers to a hefty compensation bill.
Redfern Legal Centre’s head of police accountability, Sam Lee, says people between the ages of 10 and 17 must have a parent or guardian present during a strip-search.
However, there’s an “opt-out clause” in NSW which means if a parent or guardian is not present and police believe the search is urgent, they can proceed, Ms Lee said.
“We all want young people to be safe, but whether something is found or not found, what we do want is for the law to be adhered to,” she said speaking alongside Mr Shoebridge.
“What we want here in NSW is for young children not to be exposed to this process that traumatises them for months on end.”