Court ruling on strip searches has Corrections officers worried

Corrections officers are worried it will become harder to carry out strip searches following a court ruling in favour of two high-profile prisoners.

Notorious, high-profile criminal Arthur Taylor and convicted murderer and sex offender Philip John Smith took the Department of Corrections to court after more than 200 inmates were searched. It followed a brutal attack on Corrections officers where three were stabbed.

Now the union for Corrections officers is worried.

"When a prisoner is pulled for a strip search on reasonable grounds, it's going to be pushed to see what the reasonable grounds are," Corrections Association president Alan Whitley says.

Taylor and Smith were among 209 inmates searched. The pair argued the incident breached their human rights.

"It was like, 'Screw you, we don't give a stuff about your rights. You've got no power. We can do whatever the hell we like with you,'" Taylor told the High Court in Auckland earlier this year.

Smith said it was humiliating and degrading.

"Being required to lift my penis and testicles and expose my rectum was the most humiliating aspect of the search for me," he said.

Nothing was found on any of the prisoners strip searched. Four contraband items were found in cell searches.

Justice Peters' judgement found the search of Taylor and Smith was unlawful and ordered the Department of Corrections to pay $1000 each to Taylor and Smith in compensation.

Whitley from the Corrections Association says it may be time to revisit what officers can legally do to make sure everyone is safe after an assault takes place.

"There's lots of things inside a prison carried around by a prisoner that we can only detect doing a strip search."

The Department of Corrections says it is considering the court's decision.


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