The NSW Police commissioner has backed his officers' use of strip searches, saying there should be "a little bit of fear" of law enforcement.
Commissioner Mick Fuller on Monday said he'd sent a video to his 17,000 police officers around the state saying he fully supported strip searching and warning changes to policing policy would increase crime.
The Commissioner's comments echo those of NSW Police Minister David Elliott, who this month said he'd be happy for his children to be strip searched if police officers believed they were about to commit a crime.
"The reality is we need to be a police force and part of that is searching people - which doesn't make everybody happy - but people need to know there are consequences, especially those who are criminals or on the verge of being criminals," Mr Fuller told The Daily Telegraph.
"They need to have respect and a little bit of fear for law enforcement."
Data obtained by the Redfern Legal Centre earlier this month showed more than 100 young girls had been strip searched by police in the past three years.
The centre, which obtained the figures under Freedom of Information laws, said police were strip-searching "terrified" teen girls often unaware of their rights.
The figures showed 3919 females were strip-searched by police between 2016 and 2019, including two 12-year-old girls and a 72-year-old woman. A total of 122 girls aged between 12 and 17 were searched.
Speaking to Seven News, Mr Fuller said if someone was asked to take their shirt off or lift it up, that would be recorded as a strip search.
He acknowledged some parents would not be happy with their children's treatment.
"There are 120, probably, parents out there that feel as though their son or daughter was not treated fairly," Mr Fuller said.
Mr Fuller said part of his job is "making sure that we are a force".
"I want these kids to think twice before they put a knife in their pocket," he said.
He also spoke directly to parents.
"You can like me and dislike me but what I want is for your kids to come home alive," Mr Fuller said.
"My message is that if you respect authority, that's a wonderful thing for me and we want to continue to engage in community policing.
"But if you don't there is a really good chance that we will stop you."
A separate University of NSW report in September found the number of field strip searches in the state jumped to 5483 in 2017/18, compared with 277 between December 2005 and November 2006.
Mr Fuller has previously attributed that increase to "codification changes" under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act.
Australian Associated Press