South Australia - Male Police Officers Strip Female Prisoners Naked

MORE women have come forward with claims they have been stripped naked by male police officers and put into padded cells.
SA Police yesterday also announced changes to how they would deal with distressed or violent prisoners.
The Advertiser revealed the independent police complaints body's "long-standing disquiet" over the practice. The Advertiser yesterday was contacted by four more women who said they were humiliated by the procedure, including one woman who said she was stripped in darkness in a cell at the Adelaide watch-house on Thursday night.
The new revelations coincided with an SA Police announcement that it would introduce "modesty gowns" for women and men who were stripped because they were deemed at risk of self-harm.
However, SA Police Assistant Commissioner Bronwyn Killmier denied the introduction of the heavy-duty material gowns was an admission the practice was flawed or inhumane.
"We have introduced different procedures for case management of prisoners . . . they will be provided with a modesty gown if they are put in a padded cell (and) they can choose whether they put that on or not," Ms Killmier said.
"(The gown) will be made with appropriate material that they cannot self-harm with.
"We are just purchasing them now. The Department of Corrections has used them for some time on at-risk prisoners.
"We don't remove clothing as a matter of course. We do a risk assessment about the likelihood of risk to the prisoner . . . it's not something we do lightly.".
The woman who sparked the outcry, Lee, said yesterday she was delighted police would change their practice.
Lee said she was stripped by three male police and two female officers after being arrested on a warrant in November 2006. She lodged a complaint with the Police Complaints Authority, which told Commissioner Mal Hyde it had "long-standing disquiet" over the practice.
"I am just glad this wasn't all for nothing. It has been dragging on for so long now but now it feels like I have achieved something for other women," Lee said.
The Advertiser yesterday was contacted by a number of women who said they had been subjected to the practice, including "Tanya", who said she was stripped after being arrested for disorderly behaviour on Thursday night. Her friend, Les, said Tanya had been distraught and in tears when he picked her up from the Adelaide watch-house about 1am yesterday.
"She told us that two male police and one woman officer had used scissors to cut her bra and shirt off her and then held her down as they pulled off her pants and all this was happening with the lights off," Les said.
"We didn't know this sort of thing went on and when I picked up the front page of the paper yesterday we couldn't believe that this was going on."
Another woman, Sharon, said she had been held in a padded cell naked for seven hours after being arrested in Hindley St about six years ago. "I am the first to admit I was running amok and deserved to be locked up but there was no need for them to strip my clothes off," Sharon said. "It was humiliating and degrading and I was treated like a feral animal.
"It was made so much worse because at the time I was also on my period and they wouldn't let me have any clothes or even allow me to change myself.
"I was ashamed and didn't even tell my husband until now, when I've seen it in the paper."
The Opposition is calling for an inquiry into the practice, which its law and order spokeswoman, Vickie Chapman, described as a "form of torture".
"Having maintained an active interest in the abuse of women internationally, and in particular in war zones, I was distressed to hear of alleged maltreatment of women in South Australian police cells," Ms Chapman said.
"The forced stripping of a female accused by male police officers is bad enough, but to use isolation and humiliation to control or modify the behaviour of that person is cruel and in breach of any reasonable standard under international human rights."
Ms Chapman said such procedures had no place in a modern society and there were other ways prisoner safety could be maintained without removing all of a prisoner's clothing.
"If found to be true, the behaviour is a form of torture that should be immediately punished and I expect the Premier, Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Minister for Women, to act accordingly," she said
Ms Killmier said records were kept of such incidents but was unable to provide figures on how often prisoners were stripped and put into padded cells. She said other women who might have felt violated by such a procedure should come forward.
"We would encourage them to come forward, if they don't want to come to the police they should go straight to the Police Complaints Authority," she said.
Ms Killmier said police made efforts to ensure female officers were present when women prisoners were stripped, but said it was not always possible. Police Minister Michael Wright said it would not be appropriate for him to comment on the matter because it was essential the Police Complaints Authority operated independently, away from ministerial influence.

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