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Strip searches at SITG may be “unjustifiable”

Less than 10% of 143 strip searches conducted at 2018 Splendour in the Grass festival revealed illegal items, inquiry finds

By Anna Grace on 24 Oct 2019

Splendour in the Grass strip searches unjustifiable

Splendour in the Grass sold a record number of tickets in 2019

image © Charlie Hardy

A public inquiry into police conduct at last year’s Splendour in the Grass festival in Australia has found that 143 strip searches were carried out over the three-day event, including on seven minors.

According to the inquiry, illegal items were found on 12 of the 143 who were strip searched.

The New South Wales Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) opened the four-day inquiry to investigate the potentially unlawful strip search of a 16-year-old girl at the 2018 festival.

Police regulations in NSW state that a parent, guardian or support person must be present whenever an individual under the age of 18 is strip searched.

The inquiry found that the girl was one of six minors to be strip searched at the festival without a parent, guardian, or other supervising adult present.

It was also revealed that staff including shopkeepers and bar workers were also strip searched at the event. None were found with illegal items.

According to the inquiry, illegal items were found on 12 of the 143 who were strip-searched

Under NSW law, police can only carry out field strip searches if the “urgency and seriousness of the situation requires it”.

When questioned at the inquiry, a senior constable who performed 19 such searches at Splendour in the Grass said they could not “think of any” circumstance which would necessitate a strip search at a music festival.

Splendour in the Grass promoter Secret Sounds tells IQ that the team is “learning of these searches along with the general public”. The promoter is unable to comment further as the inquiry is ongoing.

The New South Wales festival celebrated record ticket sales for its 2019 event, which took place from 19 to 21 July at its site in North Byron Bay Parklands with performances from Tame Impala, Childish Gambino and the Lumineers.

Splendour in the Grass and fellow Secret Sounds-promoted festival Falls are part of a coalition of events threatening to leave NSW, after the government reintroduced “unworkable” festival legislation.


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