Recently a judge in Ontario had to remind the police that strip searches aren't supposed to be considered a part of routine procedures. A Toronto judge ruled just last week that the police didn't have any right to strip search one citizen who they had found passed out and apparently intoxicated inside of her vehicle. After they found the woman on the side of the road, they detained her and brought her back to the station where she was allegedly strip-searched by two female officers.
After the officers asked the woman to strip down, to only her underwear, they then asked her to remove her belly button ring. The judge has scolded the officers for their actions and says that the entire affair was a “humiliating exercise,” he deemed their search to be a violation to her Constitutional rights, and he then went ahead and cleared the accused of all charges.
The judge criticized the two officers who conducted the search, asking them to offer any satisfactory explanation of why they thought the woman's clothing would pose any sort of issue, threat or danger, to herself or anyone else. The officers insisted that any and all clothing could potentially be used as a weapon of some sort. As it stands currently, this ruling reaffirms a strong body of legislation already within Canada, which defends the notion that the police in Canada do not have the authority to conduct strip searches whenever they see fit.
If an individual is going to be searched, it must be because they seek to uncover evidence of some sort, or to discover weapons on the person's body. “Strip searches cannot be carried out simply as a matter of routine police department policy applicable to all arrests,” wrote Judge Peter Bourque. When it comes to procedures for those in a temporary holding cell or drunk tank, compared to those who are prison inmates, he says that the police don't have the same power to conduct a search on the former.
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