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 evidence. Both in Western Australia and internationally there are examples where decreasing or eliminating strip searching has had no effect on drug use in the prison or finding contraband through other means. Current practices also breach international standards.

Despite the evidence, most staff believe that strip searching is the most effective means of locating contraband on a person, with many stating it is critical to the safety and security of the facility.

The Department is under considerable pressure to reduce the volume of contraband coming into prisons. But relying on ineffective practices to address this is both pointless and harmful.


Page last updated: April 10, 2019