Counsel assisting the commission, Peggy Dwyer, read the contents of a detective chief inspector’s email to the organisation, requesting “two to three of your finest staff” that would be able to act as a support person for minors being interviewed by police.
Dr Dwyer said the email made no mention of the volunteers being present during strip searches, to which the drug-dog commander giving evidence replied, “no”.
When asked by an SES member in a return email whether working-with-children checks were needed, the chief inspector replied, “if they have those checks, fine. They will be with police officers, so it isn’t a deal-breaker.”
LECC chief commissioner, Michael Adams, QC, previously questioned the appropriateness of police using the emergency volunteers, as well as volunteers from the Red Frogs youth charity, for that purpose.
The drug-dog commander, whose identity and that of the chief inspector’s is suppressed, said when he liaised with the SES volunteers on the day of the festival, he asked if they would perform the role of an independent person during a strip search.
Mr Adams put to him that the volunteers had not expected that to be part of their function.
“Not that I’m aware,” he replied.
When asked what guidelines he looked to regarding how to conduct a strip search, the officer said there was material police were able to reference online, as well as previous training.
The NSW Police personal search manual has drawn criticism from legal circles for saying officers can ask a person to lift his testicles, or part of his or her buttock cheeks, as well as squat.
Mr Adams said the manual “gives very little guidance and, indeed, some parts of it are controversial”.
“For a policeman about to search someone in the field, it doesn’t give them much help does it?” he asked.
“No, it doesn’t,” the officer replied.
The hearing continues.