Case Study – 15 year old school girl in London strip searched and suspected to have marijuana

In London, a 15-year-old Black girl was searched at her school, after her teachers suspected she smelt of marijuana.

The child was told to spread her legs, buttocks and cough. To add further insult, she was menstruating at the time of the search. She was taken to the medical room and two female officers strip-searched her, while the teachers remained outside. No parent or guardian had been present during the search.

Her intimate body parts had been exposed and the officers had made her remove her sanitary pad. According to her family members, the police had not permitted her to go to the bathrooms to clean up but forced her to re-use her pad. Based on a report, racism was a possible factor in her treatment.

Based on this situation, how would the law apply if a child was strip-searched in NSW?

In NSW, the police cannot strip-search any child under the age of 10.

Part 15 of LEPRA governs the use of strip-searching individuals. Under these provisions, the police must suspect on ‘reasonable grounds’ that a strip search is necessary. To invoke a strip search, it is determined based on the ‘seriousness’ and ‘urgency’ of the circumstances. Any ‘reasonable suspicion’ formed must be more than a mere possibility. Where the individual is a minor, a parent, guardian or support person must be present during the search, unless it is necessary for the safety of the person or to prevent any evidence from being destroyed.

If you or anyone you know has been charged with this type of offence, you should immediately seek Legal Advice. Our experienced Criminal Defence Lawyers at KPT Defence Lawyers have significant and specialised experience in all areas of criminal law.

*Disclaimer: This is intended as general information only and not to be construed as legal advice. The above information is subject to changes over time. You should always seek professional advice before taking any course of action.*

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