Strip Searching Women Prisoners

Latest News

Female inmate strip-searched in front of male inmates and staff at a Canberra jail (January 2021)
Australia: Strip searching women is routine in Australian prisons (November 2020)
Police had ‘no idea’ about strip search laws, watchdog finds (May 2020)
Report: Rethinking Strip Searches by NSW Police
Strip searching practices in Western Australian prisons (March 2019)
Report: Inspection of Mary Wade Correctional Centre, by Inspector of Custodial Services
Custodial Operations Policy and Procedures: Searching Inmates


Pursuant to The Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW), police are entitled with the power to strip-search a person. Conducting such a search is degrading, humiliating and a violation to the right of bodily integrity. The current legislation allows the conduction of such searches if it is reasonable to do so. However the criteria to meet ‘reasonableness’ is relatively undefined. This wide discretion allows for inconsistent interpretation which leads to the arbitrary use of the power. However, there are sufficient alternatives to strip searching, including Portable and Full body x-ray scanners. Opting to such alternatives would prevent the distress and harm caused to prisoners.