skip to content
Law Handbook banner image

Powers of Police and Customs officers

External body searches

Where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person is carrying prohibited goods on their body, police and customs officers have powers to conduct external body searches [Customs Act 1901 (Cth) s 219Q]. Police and customs officers have the power to detain a person under these circumstances for the purpose of conducting such a search.

Internal searches

Where a person is suspected on reasonable grounds by a customs or police officer of internally concealing a suspicious substance they can detain the person for the purposes of conducting an internal search [Customs Act 1901 (Cth) s 219S]. An internal search must be authorised by a judge if the person has not consented [s 219V] and carried out by a medical practitioner [s 219Z].

An internal non-medical scan can be carried out if the person agrees [s 219SA].

Search must be made within 48 hours of order of detention

Where an application is made for detention for the purposes of conducting an internal search a judge or magistrate may order detention for a period of 48 hours from the time the detention began or the time the detention order was made [Customs Act 1901 (Cth) s 219T ]. Where the judge or magistrate does not make such an order the person being detained must be released immediately.

Powers of Police and Customs officers  :  Last Revised: Tue Jul 21st 2015
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.