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Cops Blow It With Student Strip Search

Green Party Youth Affairs Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos today said the police had blown an opportunity to educate young people about the risks of drug abuse by strip searching five students on suspicion of possessing cannabis.

The search of the five students aged between 14 - 17 was conducted by police in a school office with the students required to strip naked from the waist down. A police officer and a youth aid representative were on their way to Long Bay College to talk to fifth formers about drugs when the students were apprehended. No cannabis was found.

"I am disgusted with these police actions and I hope the parents of these children do challenge the search," said Mr Tanczos.

"Children under 16 are entitled to have a parent or nominated adult present when questioned by police - let alone strip searched - and in this case the police, on Morning Report this morning, could not confirm that the 14 year old was made aware of these rights."

Mr Tanczos said he fully agreed with Youth Law that the searches were unreasonable, over the top, degrading and humiliating, with a real imbalance of power.

Mr Tanczos said the police needed to clarify what it was they were trying to achieve with youth.

"Everybody knows that young people should not be using drugs and I am going out of my way to say that to young people at every opportunity. However the police obviously need to spend some time thinking about how they can best get that message across.

"Bowling into a high school with heavy handed tactics and strip searching a number of young people is hardly any way to get young people to respect either the police or their message - whatever that might be."

Mr Tanczos said he was becoming increasingly concerned at the arbitrary and often inappropriate police application of the Misue of Drugs Act, under which these searches were conducted.

The Misuse of Drugs Act provides police with the widest of powers to enter and search a property or to search a person for no reason other than a suspicion that somebody might be in possession of drugs.

"This Act allows police to tip people out of cars, enter houses or detain and search people on the street with the flimsiest possible justification and I believe this Act needs to be reviewed - particularly the search and seizure provisions."

Ends

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