Court awards prisoners $2000 over 'unlawful' strip search

Two prisoners have been awarded $1000 each in compensation after the High Court ruled that a mass prison strip search was unlawful. 

In October 2016, management and officers at Auckland Prison strip searched 209 prisoners, including two men called Arthur Taylor and Phillip John Smith. 

The mass strip search at the prison in Paremoremo involved 209 prisoners, including Smith, who was convicted in 1996 of murdering the father of a boy he had molested.

The search was ordered after several prisoners assaulted officers using weapons, court documents show, but Taylor and Smith did not take part in the assault. 

The men then took the Department of Corrections to court over the mass strip search which they said was unlawful.

"Being required to lift my penis and testicles and expose my rectum was the most humiliating aspect of the search for me," Smith told the High Court in Auckland in March. 

The High Court ruled that Corrections breached the Corrections Act 2004 by strip searching Taylor and Smith, and breached their right under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 to be secure against unreasonable search. 

The court ruled that Corrections had no reasonable grounds to believe Taylor and Smith were in possession of weapons or other contraband. 

The Department of Corrections told Newshub it is "considering the Court's decision" and is "unable to make any comment at this time."


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