Adelaide, Aug 14 (ANI): The complaints of a woman, allegedly stripped naked by policemen before being put in padded cell, have made authorities to offer prisoners with "modesty gowns".
Assistant Police Commissioner Bronwyn Killmier said that the purchase of the reinforced calico gowns was not an admission that the practice, recently revealed in The Advertiser and on AdelaideNow, was inappropriate.
The Assistant Commissioner said that records were kept of such incidents, but it was not possible to provide figures on how often prisoners were stripped and put into padded cells.
In a letter to Police Commissioner Mal Hyde, the Police Complaints Authority has said that it has "long-standing disquiet" over the practice, which has been labelled "violent and disturbing" by civil libertarians.
The practice only came to light after a mother of three complained about being stripped by a group of officers, including at least three males, and put into a padded cell at Christies Beach police station.
According to the woman, her complaint would have been "swept under the carpet" if not for a letter on her behalf from former Supreme Court judge Ted Mullighan.
Lee, not her real name, said that she was still haunted by the November 2006 ordeal, and that she was waiting on a complaints authority ruling.
In fact, two teenage girls have also claimed to have been subjected to the same treatment at Christies Beach, but are too afraid to lodge an official complaint.
Lee gave evidence at the Mullighan inquiry about being sexually abused in foster care as a child.
She said that being stripped by male officers was "like being raped all over again".
She was held inside a cell naked for about an hour after being picked up on a warrant for failing to attend a court hearing over a minor theft from a shop in the 1990s.
The warrant took police 13 years to execute despite Lee living at the same address the entire period.
"I can't put words to what they have done to me, it's just inhumane. Nobody is game enough to talk about this sort of thing because they are the police, they've got a badge and they are allowed to do whatever they do - it's not right," Adelaide Now quoted Lee as saying.
SA Council of Civil Liberties spokesman George Mancini said that he was appalled at the "humiliating and violent" practice and said police had a "very high duty of care" to distressed prisoners who were deemed at risk of self-harm. (ANI)