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HomeNewsPolice "strip search" policy under review

Police “strip search” policy under review

KAWARTHA LAKES-Since January 1, 2019 the Kawartha Lakes Police Service has performed six “strip searches” on people taken into custody in Lindsay.

“The City of Kawartha Lakes Police Service has had 149 persons in custody from January 1, 2019 to present.” Sgt. Dave Murtha told Kawartha 411 News. “Of that 149, only six “strip searches” were conducted.  The other 143 prisoners were not searched in this manner.”

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director recently released the results of a systemic review on police “strip searches” and made 50 detailed recommendations on how police services in Ontario should conduct, document and receive training on “strip searches”.

“We will be taking a look at our policy to make sure we are in compliance.” Chief Mark Mitchell says. “It hasn’t been an issue here for us in the past. Other than a few minor changes I don’t anticipate any significant impact for us.”

The current Kawartha Lakes Police Service policy for, “Arrest, Security and Control of Prisoners, Search of Persons, Prisoner Transportation” dictates the following in regards to conducting a strip search:

“A strip search shall only be conducted if the arresting officer believes the prisoner is suspected of concealing evidence, tools or implements for the purposes of harming themselves or others, or to be utilized as tools or implements for escape.” 

Chief Mitchell says officers have to balance the risk of harm versus the rights of the prisoner. “Nobody wants people in custody with items that they are going to overdose on or harm themselves with. So how do we ensure that we treat people with respect and in compliance with human rights but at the same time ensure safety not just for themselves but for our staff as well?  That’s the balance that we try to strike and will continue to do so”

If an officer decides a strip search is necessary these are the current guidlines for KLPS:

“If a prisoner is to be strip searched, the officer-in-charge is to be notified that a strip search is to be conducted. Prisoner shall be encouraged to remove their   own clothing, unless safety requirements or destruction of evidence issues dictates otherwise.  The search should be conducted in a manner that eschews unnecessary body contact.  No person is to be present during the search who is not a member of a police service, or whose attendance is not appropriate or required in the circumstances, unless safety requirements dictate otherwise.”

The new recommendations include:
A)The Search of Persons Guidelines should provide much greater assistance in enabling police service boards and police services to develop compatible policies, procedures and practices respecting searches across the province. The assistance should include and clear definition of a strip search, clear demarcation between strip searches and frisk, pat down or field searches, on the lower end of the spectrum searches, and body cavity searches at the higher end of the spectrum. It should also include greater specificity around whether and how strip searches are conducted, authorized or supervised.


B)All police services in Ontario should ensure that they keep accurate statistics of the number of persons they arrest or detain, the number of persons strip searched and the justifications provided for the strip search.

C)Every police service in Ontario shoud incorporate training on strip searches into their annual or biannual training.


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Pamela Vanmeer
Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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