Reports for other quarters are available.

Searches of young people in Youth Justice custody are regulated by section 488 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (CYF Act). They can be conducted routinely in particular circumstances, or where necessary to maintain security, good order, safety or welfare. Procedures and practice requirements are in place to ensure searches are conducted in a professional manner, respecting the dignity of the young person, and in the least intrusive way possible. All searches are recorded in a search register and is reported to the Commission for Children and Young People on a quarterly basis.

Unclothed search data is published on a quarterly basis on the DJCS website to increase transparency and public understanding of the operation of Victoria’s youth justice facilities.

Unclothed searches

Under section 488AC of the CYF Act, an unclothed search may be authorised if it is necessary to do so in the interests of the security or good order of the precinct or the safety of young people or staff (s488AC(1)). This includes to:

  • minimise the risk of self-harm by the young person
  • minimise the risk of harm to other young people or staff
  • control the introduction of prohibited items.

Routine unclothed searches were ceased in Youth Justice custody from February 2021 following the introduction of body scanner technology at both the Parkville and Malmsbury youth justice precincts. Young people are clothed while using the body scanner.

Where there is a reasonable belief that a young person has prohibited items on their person, they may be subject to an unclothed search, if other less intrusive searches have failed to address or mitigate the risk. This requires approval by the Director Operations of that Precinct or the Duty Director afterhours.

While unclothed searches can be distressing every effort is made to help the young person maintain dignity and to feel safe and supported. Unclothed searches are always undertaken by a person of the same gender and the young person is never in a state of total undress, with top half search and bottom half search being completed separately. A small towel is provided for modesty.

Unclothed searches must be conducted in a way that complies with practice guidance and human rights obligations, including that they are:

  • conducted in the presence of two staff members (s488AD(4)), with the second staff member positioned in such a way that the young person is not in their view (s488AD(5))
  • conducted expeditiously and with regard to the decency and self-respect of the young person (s488AD(6))
  • conducted by staff of the same gender as the young person being searched, unless the young person asks otherwise (with exceptions requiring relevant approval) (s488AD(5)).

Intrusive searches of body cavities are not permissible (s488AC(2)). Young people must be informed of the reason and authority for undertaking the search, as well as their right to refuse the search and the consequences of any refusal (s488AD(2)). The data below demonstrates that body scanner searches are now routinely used.

Table 1: Youth Justice Custodial Services Unclothed Search Episodes Quarter 4 - 2022-23

Quarter - April 2023 to June 2023


Body scanner searches completed


Unclothed searches completed


Monthly average of unclothed searches



[1] Reporting data undergoes routine data validation and as such is subject to minor changes over time. Numbers contained in this report may not be directly comparable to subsequently released reporting information.

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