Illustration of people walking through a scan machine and then being searched using a hand held wand


Contraband in prisons is a legitimate concern for the Western Australian Department of Justice. Items like illicit drugs, weapons, and mobile phones can adversely affect the security, good order, and management of a facility as they present considerable dangers to prisoners, staff, and others. The Department of Justice uses various methods to prevent contraband entering …

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Various drugs in clip seal bags

Key findings

Strip searching is ineffective Strip searches are not an effective method of locating contraband. Out of almost 900,000 strip searches conducted on prisoners in the past five years, only 571 contraband items were found. In other words, contraband was only found less than once in every 1,500 strip searches. Strip searching is harmful Strip searches …

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Close-up of the word 'ineffective'


There may always be situations where it is necessary to strip search a person in custody, but the Department overuses this practice. The routine, excessive strip searching is causing harm while being ineffective at locating contraband. Even the firmly held belief that strip searching provides a deterrent for people to hide contraband lacks credible supporting …

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Recommendation 1 – Establish a departmental position that limits strip searching in line with international standards Recommendation 2 – Improve the complaints management system to provide the ability to effectively interrogate the data Recommendation 3 – Develop an agreement with an external agent to conduct strip searches of departmental staff Recommendation 4 – Do not …

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