Concerns have been raised over data revealing NSW Police have quotas for personal searches and move on orders.
Concerns have been raised over data revealing NSW Police have quotas for personal searches and move on orders.

FEARS OF ABUSE: NSW Police stop and search quotas questioned

DATA revealing NSW Police are being told to meet certain quotas for random stop and searches has left people concerned the targets could lead to "human rights abuse".

Data obtained by the Greens through Freedom of Information laws revealed NSW Police are stopping and searching people almost a quarter of a million times every year to meet arbitrary quotas.

Residents in the Tweed Byron region were subjected to 3896 personal searches and 1622 move on orders in the 2019 financial year.

In the 2020 financial year, Tweed Byron officers are expected to carry out 4352 personal searches, or the equivalent of just less than 12 searches a day for the entire staff on duty.

Meanwhile, Richmond Police District officers performed 3646 personal searches and 1697 move on orders.

But in 2020, Richmond Police District quotas set out an order to perform 3950 personal searches, or almost 11 searches a day.

Greens MP David Shoebridge said NSW Police informed him the quotas are set for personal searches and move on orders under the COMPASS system and officers would meet administrative action if they did not meet their quotas.

"The very concept of targets or quotas when you're talking about a discretionary power is only meant the be used when an officer on the ground is satisfied it needs to be used," Mr Shoebridge said.

"Inevitably we will see those powers abused … and it's a systemic problem that is designed to see people's human rights abused."

Lismore solicitor Tracey Randall said policing quotas or targets were "problematic".

Ms Randall last year represented a 16-year-old girl who was strip searched at Splendour in the Grass and gave evidence at the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission inquiry into police strip searches on minors.

"There's not a lot of guidance around those terms to guide police," Ms Randall said.

"When you have quotas or targets you start to move away from searching on the basis in what's allowed on legislation and what's authorised to meet targets.

"It means that police may cut corners to meet targets and may conduct searches that aren't authorises by legislation and therefore unlawful searches."

Ms Randall said the data highlighting the Tweed Byron and Richmond Police Districts were concerning.

"The numbers have jumped significantly, for this financial year we're almost at the number for the entire of last year and we still have four months to go," she said.

"It concerns me that a person's right to go about their business without being searched is pretty closely guarded in terms of civil liberties.

"We wouldn't like to see an erosion of those rights."

Mr Shoebridge said he hoped the NSW Government would review its policy immediately.

"We need the Premier and Police Minister to step up and direct NSW Police to cease issuing quotas for the use of these discretionary police powers," he said.

Meanwhile, a NSW Police spokesman told the ABC last week the use of quotas was part of a business plan target and was calculated on a three-year average.

"Any time a police officer executes their search powers they must hold a reasonable suspicion," the spokesman said.

"The NSW Police Force deploys various proactive strategies as part of an ongoing commitment to reducing crime and the fear of crime in the community."