The public sentiment towards NSW police is honestly a train wreck, and for good fucking reason. Obviously there’s the usual stuff around Aboriginal deaths in custody and general brutality towards minorities and homeless people (remember Danny Lim?), but the latest controversy around our cops is the fact that they literally have a strip search quota.
NSW Police have a quota of almost a quarter of a million personal searches a year. Thousands of these are strip searches. They fill their quota every year by routinely abusing people’s rights. Time to abolish the quotas. https://t.co/6iIzocybIr
— David Shoebridge (@ShoebridgeMLC) February 12, 2020
The quota was to conduct some 241,632 searches in the financial year – so basically, a quarter of a million strip searches. The Greens used the Freedom of Information act to unearth this jaw-dropping figure, and it’s actually even more than the previous financial year of 2018.
Now, if you aren’t immediately concerned and outraged by that fact, then let’s get into why it’s so problematic.
A Quota Gives Cops Incentive To Strip Search You For No Reason
The question should be
• Do we absolutely NEED to do a strip search in this particular circumstance?
•How many more strip searches do we need to do today to fill our monthly quota?#AbuseOfPower #PoliceState #nswpolhttps://t.co/7Ob100lfQ4
— Catherine Perry. (@CatPurry9) February 13, 2020
Cops have to have grounds of reasonable suspicion before they strip search you, but the quota gives rise to cops just strip searching for the sake of meeting a certain amount of numbers. If there’s still so many strip-searches to conduct and not enough “suspicious” people around, you bet police discretionary powers are about to get abused.
David Shoebridge (good ol’ Shoey) has been vocally against strip-searching for some time now. He spoke about how these stats align pretty well with the claims of teenagers being strip searched for no apparent reason.
“That’s a guaranteed recipe for the abuse of people’s human rights,” he said, reported by the ABC.
“These quotas will inevitably lead to the abuse of police powers and what these numbers show is that on hundreds of occasions every day there’s this micro abuse of police powers.”
Shoebridge has spoken extensively about how traumatising strip searches are, and how they should be an absolute last resort – not a quota to routinely abuse people’s vulnerabilities.
Any system of ‘quotas’ or ‘targets’ creates a concerning incentive for NSW Police to excessively conduct searches and will ultimately erode the relationship between the public and law enforcement. https://t.co/6SV8cHe4Q3
— Aboriginal Legal Service (@ALS_NSWACT) February 12, 2020
“The fact that people are being stopped and searched, not to address the circumstances on the ground, but to meet arbitrary quotas, is a dreadful development,” he said, reported by SMH.
“It is particularly troubling that thousands of these quota-driven searches are in fact strip searches with all the distress and trauma that they can bring.”
Former director of public prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery, QC, who is now the president of the NSW Council of Civil Liberties, condemned the quota as giving “great potential for the abuse of power”
Stats Show Police Profile Strip Searches Based On Area
The Sydney Morning Herald did a lot of digging, and turns out specific areas were searched at way higher rates than others.
NSW Police aimed to conduct almost a quarter of a million personal searches last year as part of a quota-driven system, with targets set for each area. https://t.co/z3MKS7kxqk pic.twitter.com/GeZ5HcECgf
— Pallavi Singhal (@pallavisinghal_) February 12, 2020
Of course, places like Campbell Town, Kings Cross and Fairfield had over 8000 searches each, compared to places like the Hills district which had only 1000-2000 (though undoubtedly still too many).
Fudging Data And Terrorising Citizens Is Apparently Encouraged
An anonymous cop told the media that police are literally pressured to record more incidents, with “garbage” reasoning.
“They would rather you have a 100 no-finds than do three searches and find something because they think there’s some correlation between that and crime going down,” He told the Herald.
It’s pretty cool how NSW police have a quota to harass people going about their daily lives, in part, to stop a drug epidemic that can’t be stopped by harassing people going about their daily lives.
Australians, giving up personal liberties to solve nothing since 1901.
— Seano (@SeanBradbery) February 13, 2020
This whole quota system is disgusting because it encourages searches when they aren’t needed, and seems to toss away all the trauma and fear strip searches cause for the sake of, what? A power-trip?
If crimes don’t match quotas, it inevitably leads to cops making up figures. Considering the inquiry into the strip searching was just cut short by the government, you have to ask yourself just how much we are willing to turn a blind-eye to in this police state.
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