Outcome of review into strip search of 12-year-old

Tasmania Police is satisfied officers who strip searched a 12-year-old girl at Rokeby last Wednesday acted lawfully and appropriately.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Scott Tilyard, has completed a review of the incident and said both searches were justified based on the behaviour of the girl and others in the house during a search for drugs pursuant to a search warrant.

“Contrary to media reports, my review did not constitute an internal investigation, as the facts did not suggest that any of the officers involved may have acted unlawfully or inappropriately,” Mr Tilyard said. “We will be meeting with the Commissioner for Children, Aileen Ashford, to discuss police practices relating to searches of young people.

“We will also review protocols in other jurisdictions in relation to these matters to determine whether we need to consider additional protocols.

“The officers involved in the search have my full support.”

The girl was searched in a bedroom by female police officers in the presence of her mother.
Under Section 30 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, a strip search means a search, other than a body cavity search ordered by a magistrate under this section, in which the person searched is required to remove most or all of his or her clothes.

In this instance, the girl had her back to police at all times. At no time was she requested or forced to stand completely naked. She was not touched or required to squat, as reportedly claimed by her mother.  Two other children at the residence were not searched.  There were no cavity searches performed on any of the people present.

Attending police state that at no time did the girl appear upset by the search.

“I am advised that all reasonable steps were taken to ensure empathy and dignity was afforded to the girl during the two searches,” Mr Tilyard said.

“Searches of children by police during execution of drug-related search warrants are rare and it is a practice that is carefully considered and determined by intelligence, observations of police at the search and the behaviour of those present at the time.”

Drugs and cash were located at the residence and police investigations are continuing.


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