Emma (not her real name) attended a music festival with some friends. Upon entry at the festival a group of male police officers with drug dogs came up to her. The dog sniffed her but did not stop or sit down and indicate. Emma was taken by two male police officers to a back area of the festival. She was escorted towards some cubicles where two female police officers were waiting.
A female police officer asked why the dog had followed her. She said she didn’t know. There was a table in the room. She was asked to put her phone on the table and police searched her small side-bag. Nothing was found. They searched her jacket. Nothing was found.
The police officers then told her to put her hands on the table. It was then requested she take off all her clothes. She was not told she was to be strip searched or informed it should occur in private. Even though this is a legal requirement.
The female police officers continued questioning her while she was being strip searched which is against the law. Nothing was found. After the search, she was told to keep her hands together. Police then confiscated her concert ticket and escorted her out of the premises. Emma was instructed to go home.
Emma says: “I don’t tell many people about what happened because I feel very vulnerable, embarrassed and get teary. Over one year ago I was sexually assaulted and when I was being stripped searched I felt the same feelings I felt during that assault.”
Unfortunately, Emma’s story is not unique. Like Emma, other people who have been subjected to an invasive strip search where police have made them feel humiliated, scared and overpowered may be reticent to approach a police officer ever again, even when they need help. The well-being of young people and children is then compromised.
You can prevent Emma’s story from happening to others.