Underage strip-searching in NSW: How will watchdog report change police practices?

Police drug dog operation at Newtown train station. Source: Sniff Off - Image supplied (All rights reserved)

The possibly unlawful strip-searching of a 16-year-old girl at Splendour in the Grass music festival in 2018 led to an investigation of the NSW Police Force’s practices by the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC).

A hard news feature story

In expectation of the report’s release on May 4, I am proposing a hard news-style feature story on the future of underage strip-searching practices in NSW. Specifically, exploring the form of those possible changes: legislative or discretionary.

I will use the published LECC report as a focal point for the article but aim to discuss the issues it raises more broadly.

Police powers in NSW and underage strip-searching practices are often in the public consciousness when the media report incidents. This story will be released in conjunction with a major investigative report on a significant issue affecting the state of New South Wales. It will, therefore, carry strong news values such as timeliness, impact, and proximity.

A police drug dog operation at Electric Gardens festival, 2020. Source: Sniff Off – Image supplied (All rights reserved)

Publication and target user group

This piece is specifically for The Junction, an inter-university online publication. The Junction, as a digital-born publication, targets university students, and young, socially conscious individuals. It is currently seeking stories for publication on youth justice in Australia – which this proposed piece directly addresses.

The hard-news style of this piece is well suited to a contentious and socially relevant topic like underage strip searches, where readers are looking to be provided with strongly researched information, facts, and expert comments, allowing them to make up their own opinion.

Sources of information

To provide readers with an informed and detailed account of current legislation, past incidents, and possible changes in police practices moving forward, I have obtained information from reports, NSWPF documents, NSW legislation, and interviewing expert sources.

Note: Further interviews are still being sought – including expert comment from a psychologist specialising in childhood trauma.

Multimedia, Hypertext, and Interactivity

This article will be a source of information for an important social issue, and it will, therefore, seek to be highly interactive through social media shareability, reader comments, and multimedia.

To provide information which best informs readers beyond the text, it will hyperlink to full versions of discussed sources such as reports and documents. Hyperlinks to previously published news articles on minor strip-searching stories in the past will also help provide a broader scope of the issue and its history.

Video: Dr Vicki Sentas and ‘rethinking strip searches by NSW police’. Source: Redfern Legal Centre (YouTube)

The article will also make use of informational and contextual videos like the one above from news sources such as the ABC and professional sources such as the Redfern Legal Centre. I plan to use infographics of strip-searching numbers in the state. And finally, I have acquired photos of drug dog operations in NSW, with permission, from Sniff Off.






About Timothy Piccione 4 Articles
Postgraduate media student at the University of Sydney. A writer, and podcaster with a passion for Australian and American politics, and social affairs. Twitter: @timpiccione

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