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Tell us your story

Have you been strip searched by NSW Police? We want to hear your story. We encourage all people who have been strip searched by NSW Police to contact us to register your interest in our investigation. By doing so, you have the opportunity to tell us your story, you can ensure you will receive updates about the investigation directly and you can find out more about your rights in any potential class action proceedings.

We want to hear from you if during a police search:

  • You were asked to take off some or all of your clothing
  • You were asked to show or move your bra or underpants
  • Police looked underneath your bra or underpants
  • Police peered into your clothing to see your bra, underpants or parts of your body
  • You were searched after a police drug dog noticed you

The investigation builds on the work done by Redfern Legal Centre as part of its ‘Safe and Sound’ campaign to change strip search laws, and research by the University of New South Wales, which found that NSW Police are using their strip search powers at an alarmingly high rate, and in many cases, in breach of the law.

Strip searches in NSW have increased over 20 fold in just over a decade. They are traumatic, invasive and harmful procedures that should only be used by police as a last resort. People who have been unlawfully searched have a right to compensation for what has happened to them.

The class actions team at Slater and Gordon is working with Redfern Legal Centre to investigate potential class action proceedings to achieve justice for people who have been affected and hold the police accountable for their policies and actions.

In order to investigate potential class action proceedings concerning unlawful NSW strip searches, we need to hear from as many people as possible who have experienced them. If you’ve been strip searched by NSW Police, we want to hear from you. Registration is free and confidential.

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have been disproportionately impacted by unlawful police searches. If you have been searched by NSW Police and prefer to tell your story to a staff member who identifies as Indigenous, please contact us and let us know.

Frequently Asked Questions

In recent years, the rates of personal searches and strip searches have increased significantly. The rates are particularly high at music festivals. Indigenous people have also experienced high rates of strip searches. In a lot of cases, these searches have been very intrusive and distressing for the people involved.

The law allows NSW Police to conduct searches only in specific and limited circumstances. They can conduct an ordinary search when they reasonably suspect that a person has drugs or stolen goods. They can conduct a strip search if they reasonably believe it’s necessary due to the ‘seriousness’ and ‘urgency’ of the circumstances.

Research by Redfern Legal Centre and UNSW, coupled with the stories that have already come out from people who have been strip searched, indicates that it is highly likely that large numbers of people have been strip searched unlawfully.

There are also laws to protect peoples’ privacy and dignity and to limit what police can do during a strip search. For example, people must generally be searched by someone of the same gender, they cannot be questioned during the search and in our view, they cannot be asked to squat or cough. The search must be conducted in privacy and if the person being searched is under 18 years old, they should have a parent or guardian present. We know from peoples’ stories that in many cases, these safeguards aren’t being respected by NSW Police.

Class action proceedings provide a powerful legal tool to allow people with similar or related claims to act together against an institution or organisation that may have done them wrong.

Individually, it may not make much sense for someone to pursue a claim against NSW Police for an unlawful strip search: the police force have much more money to fight a claim, and the costs involved in running a single case could be more than the value of compensation available.

But class action proceedings can significantly level the legal playing field because:

  • they may involve hundreds or thousands of people acting together
  • the resources of the parties become a lot more evenly-matched
  • the value of the claim is large enough that it makes sense to pursue
  • class action particpants don’t face any financial risks by being part of a case
  • class action participants don’t have to do anything until very late in the process in order to get the benefit of being part of the litigation.

Learn more about class action proceedings

At this stage, it is too soon to say exactly what the potential class action proceedings will focus on or who will be covered. It won’t be until we hear your stories that we will be able to assess which case/s to take forward. At first we'll be working to develop the case with the best possible chances of establishing the NSW Police's liability. We don’t want anyone to miss out - a successful first case may allow us to pursue more cases afterwards.

It’s not yet clear what the first case will be, as there will be different advantages and disadvantages to different kinds of cases. Potential class action proceedings may focus on strip searches that took place in a certain circumstance or a specific location.

We want to hear from you if during a police search:

  • You were asked to take off some or all of your clothing
  • You were asked to show or move your bra or underpants
  • Police looked underneath your bra or underpants
  • Police peered into your clothing to see your bra, underpants or parts of your body
  • You were searched after a police drug dog noticed you

Please don’t be concerned about contacting us if you aren’t sure whether what happened to you was a strip search – it is still very helpful to hear from you, and our legal team can help to assess what kind of a search you experienced.

A search can still be unlawful even if an officer discovered an illegal item on you in the course of the search, so we hope to hear from people affected by these searches regardless of whether anything was found.

Similarly, please feel free to contact us even if you aren’t sure whether the search you experienced was lawful or not – the legal standards involved in assessing the legality of a search are complex, so it’s to be expected that a lot of people won’t know this for sure. By telling us what you experienced, you can help us to assess the lawfulness of a range of searches in different situations, including what happened to you.

Yes. Your information will be kept confidential by Slater and Gordon and Redfern Legal Centre and you will not be identified to any other party or government department without your consent.

By registering you are providing your information to Slater and Gordon and Redfern Legal Centre to use for the purposes of investigating potential class action proceedings concerning unlawful strip searches by NSW Police. Your information will only be used for that purpose, and will only be available to Slater and Gordon and Redfern Legal Centre unless you decide otherwise.

If you register, a member of the class actions team at Slater and Gordon will respond to you to confirm your registration, and may contact you again at some stage to ask whether you would be willing to provide some further information about your experiences or to answer some further questions as our investigation progresses. Any involvement you have is completely voluntary, and you can ask not to be contacted again.

Yes, you are able to register if you live outside of NSW, as long as you were strip searched within NSW.

However, the law gives a 6 year time limit to bring a claim for this type of case, so any potential class action proceedings can only cover strip searches which occurred between 2014 and the present date.

The law only allows you to claim compensation for wrongdoing once. If you have already received compensation in relation to an unlawful strip search, you will not be able to claim compensation again for the same incident in any potential class action proceedings that arise from our investigation.

However, if you have already received compensation and would still like to share your story with us to help our investigation, we welcome you to contact us. Though, if you've previously settled a claim, please check the terms of that settlement to make sure you are allowed to speak with other parties like us about it, as sometimes settlement agreements can contain confidentiality requirements.

No, you can contact us even if you are under the age of 18. However, we encourage you to speak with your parent or guardian when deciding whether to contact us.

Registering your interest and telling us your story won’t cost you anything and doesn’t commit you to anything – you will not be signing up to use any particular lawyers, and you are not committing yourself to be part of any case. We will be able to use what we learn from your story to help configure any class action proceedings that can be pursued concerning unlawful strip searches.

If class action proceedings are started in the future, details about how those cases are run will be available at that point. However, because class actions are run on an opt-out basis, if you are a group member in such a case, you will automatically be covered by the case. Therefore, registering your interest now will ensure you are kept updated on any future case which may affect your rights. You will not be required to pay any money out of your own pocket to participate in any case that eventuates from our investigation.

Register your interest

You can contact us to register your interest in this investigation by clicking on the “Tell us your story” button. You will be taken to a form which will ask you a few questions about what happened to you, to give you the opportunity to tell your story. We’ll use all of the information we learn through this process to identify the trends in people’s experiences, to consider the viability of potential class action proceedings.

After you complete the form, you will receive confirmation that you have been registered and you will be given contact details of the legal team at Slater and Gordon so that you can ask any questions you might have about your rights or how potential class actions proceedings could affect you. You will also receive updates from us about the investigation as it progresses.

Registering is free and confidential. By registering, your name will not appear on any court documents or be provided to NSW Police.

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which our offices stand and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.