Following damning news reports of New South Wales police use of strip searches on children, the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service is highlighting the common use of the practice in Victorian youth prisons.

A report released by the Redfern Legal Centre has shone a light on the high number of strip searches conducted on children in New South Wales, some as young as 11 years old.

The report found that police conducted 1546 strip searches on children 2016 and 2023.

46 per cent of searches were in public with the rest being in a police station.

45 per cent of all searches were on Indigenous children.

VALS principal managing lawyer Sarah Schwartz says strip searches can be retraumatising for children in prison who have already experienced other trauma, particularly sexual violence.

She says despite this, strip searches are still happening too often in Victorian youth prisons.

“The latest data the Victorian Government released on unclothed searches, showed that there were 72 unclothed searches in one quarter, and that’s a really high percentage of searches.

Despite the routine unclothed searches taking place, we don’t see actually see a high level of contraband found as a result of those searches.”

Ms Schwartz says strip searches are really ineffective and are not needed, we have technology these days such as full body scanners.

What happens in other states?

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Legal Service says searches must be conducted by someone of the same sex and in the least intrusive way possible.

The services says there are full body scanners in reception in prisons including the detention centre.

Those points were a part of updated legislation the state passed in 2016 and it is understood that the services hasn’t heard of any intrusive searches since.

In Western Australia, police cannot strip search without forming a reasonable suspicion, except for where police have intelligence that drugs are being brought into WA from interstate.

If police form a reasonable suspicion that an offence has or is about to be committed, they have a power to search.

In Queensland, according to Legal Aid Queensland, public searches must be limited to a frisk, where possible. More thorough searches must be away from public view, if possible.

Searches must be carried out by a police officer of the same sex, unless an immediate search is required.