General Searches | Factsheet

General Searches | Factsheet

Personal Searches

Police have the power to search you and seize items without a warrant, under Part 4 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW) (‘LEPRA’).

Police powers on strip searches affect young people disproportionately lately, especially at music festivals and other activities that attract young men and women.

Check out our infographics on frequently asked questions here


Pursuant to section 21 of the act, the police can carry out general searches of persons without a warrant. However, the police officer must suspect on reasonable grounds that the person has in their possession or under their control:

  • Anything stolen or unlawfully obtained.
  • Anything used or intended to be used in connection with a serious offence,
  • A dangerous article that is being or was used in or in connection with the commission of a relevant offence,
  • A prohibited plant or a prohibited drug.

To conduct general searches, and under section 32, a police officer may:

  • Run his/her hands over the person’s clothing
  • Require the person to remove some of his/her clothing (coat, jacket or similar, gloves, shoes, socks and hat).
  • Examine anything in the possession of the person
  • Pass an electronic metal detection device over or in close proximity to the person’s outer clothing
  • Carry out other actions as authorised by the act.


O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors
p: 02 9261 4281
a: Level 4, 219-223 Castlereagh St,
Sydney NSW 2000

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