Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 August 2008) . . Page.. 3822 ..
… just as victims of rape may turn to alcohol and drug use following the sexual assault, so too may women in prisons turn to illicit drugs as a way of blocking out the memory of being strip-searched and thus regain a degree of control over their thoughts and feelings.
The government places great reliance on the requirement in this bill for the chief executive to develop a policy in relation to strip searches. But the policy is not written. These powers should not be considered—they should not be granted—until that policy is written. And the policy itself should have to be approved by the Assembly. At the very least, it should be a disallowable instrument. Consequently, I cannot support this bill in its current form.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (7:52), in reply: In closing the debate on this bill, I would like to highlight the purpose of it, which is to ensure the safety and security of detainees, corrections officers and visitors to ACT correctional centres in the interim period when it is not possible to use the SOTER X-ray body scanner.
As I previously informed the Assembly, following a trial of the SOTER X-ray body scanner at the Belconnen Remand Centre in late 2006 and early 2007, application was made to the ACT Radiation Council for a permanent approval to use the SOTER X-ray body scanner as an alternative in most instances to the use of the strip-search technique. The ACT Radiation Council is still currently considering an application from my department to use the SOTER scanner and has requested additional, independent technical advice on the ramifications of granting such an approval.
The bill introduces a further authority for the chief executive to direct a corrections officer to strip-search a detainee under division 9.4.3 of the Corrections Management Act 2007 in the interim period when it is not possible to use the SOTER X-ray body scanner. The bill restates the power that the chief executive has under the current section 113 of the Corrections Management Act 2007 to direct a corrections officer to strip-search a detainee. The bill expands this power to instances where the chief executive believes that conducting a strip search is prudent on reasonable grounds and a less intrusive means of searching is not available or appropriate in the circumstances.
The bill also allows for a detainee to be strip-searched in circumstances where a detainee has not been under control or immediate supervision of a corrections officer for a period and may have had the opportunity to obtain contraband, and where a frisk search or ordinary search is not likely to detect more than a limited range of possible seizeable items on the detainee. Examples of circumstances in which a detainee may be strip-searched include: where the detainee is returning from community service outside the corrections centre; where the detainee is returning from police or court cells; following an unsupervised contact visit; and where the detainee is returning from leave that has been granted under chapter 12 of the Corrections Management Act 2007.
The bill also empowers the chief executive to direct a corrections officer to strip-search a detainee in the situation where body scanning technology is available but a detainee has refused to undergo a scanning search, and the use of force to conduct a scanning search is likely to make the result of a scanning search ineffectual.