A new trans* and intersex inclusive search policy has been gazetted for WA Police. The Transgender and Intersex Search Policy is designed to guide police officers in making appropriate decisions when conducting basic or strip searches with people who are trans or intersex or whose gender is unclear.
Under the Crimes Investigation Act, unless conducted by a doctor or nurse, searches are required to be carried out by a person of the same gender as a detainee. Under the new policy, if officers are unsure of the gender of a detainee they are required to ask who should conduct a search and must comply with the answer given.
Speaking at the Perth Watch House, Acting Senior Sergeant Kate Vivian told OUTinPerth that the new policy,
‘Gives us clear direction in relation to a person who may come in and whose gender might not be extremely obvious to our officers. So for us it gives us clear direction to really communicate with that person how they identify or how they see themselves so we can search appropriately from their response.
‘It comes down to communication and I would think that some common sense would be used and if there’s even just the slightest “not really sure” then the officer should act on that and ask the question.’
The new policy also has implications for persons in police custody, with recommendations that when possible, trans or intersex persons be allocated separate cells in the Watch House in order to best protect their safety.
Melané White, the Community Diversity Officer with WA Police who developed the policy, emphasised that the intent is to ensure that trans and intersex people are treated with dignity and respect in their dealings with police, and encouraged people to speak to officers if they had any concerns.
The new policy will be communicated to all WA Police and is being integrated into cadet training.