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NSW: Adults missing during child strip searches: Ombudsman

05 May 2009 6:57 PM

SYDNEY, May 5 AAP - In more than 840 cases when children were strip searched by NSW police, a supporting adult was present at only six per cent of occasions, the state's ombudsman says.

NSW Ombudsman Bruce Barbour says the low rate is of concern, adding that police should be made aware of their obligations when searching minors.

The figures were uncovered during his review of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act that came into power in 2005.

The Act sets out the powers and responsibilities of police with the aim of making the laws simpler to understand for officers and the community.

"In our view, a support person should be present for all but exceptional circumstances in which it is not possible to do so," the ombudsman wrote in a report released on Tuesday.

"The low level of compliance with this safeguard is of concern and should be redressed urgently."

Mr Barbour's investigation found that between December 1, 2005, and November 30, 2007, a total of 847 children and youths aged between 10 and 17 were strip searched by police.

In 94 per cent, or 797 of those cases, the child did not have an adult with them in support.

Mr Barbour called on the NSW Police Force to ensure all officers are aware of their obligations to ensure there is a support person present during a strip search.