The fight against terrorism is likely to represent one of the biggest challenges confronting Victoria Police for many years to come. Since 2001, Victorian Police have been steadily responding to escalating and quickly changing terrorism risks. More recently, this focus has broadened from organised terrorist activities to include so-called lone-wolf attacks that have the potential to inflict significant trauma on Victorians.
The June 2017 Brighton siege highlighted this trend and our vulnerability as a community and as a police force. The Police Association recently shared its views with an Expert Panel Review on Terrorism and Violent Extremism (‘the Review’) led by former Chief Commissioner, Ken Lay, commissioned by the State Government.
It is essential that police are provided with the powers, resources and protections they need to respond to this dynamic threat.
TPAV’s submission to the Review proposes that laws should be changed to assist police officers responding to terrorism-related activity. These include:
- Clear and unambiguous legislation to simplify the ‘use of lethal force’ when neutralising terror threats, thereby protecting first responders who attend to such incidents.
- Presumption against parole for terrorism offences or for people associated with terrorist groups.
- Immediate protection for police from identification (‘non- publication orders’) for police responding or investigating terror-related offences.
TPAV would also like to see police have a greater capacity to respond and prevent acts of terror to meet threat levels that have now become ‘business as usual’.
Some practical examples where police could increase capacity are as follows:
- The introduction of additional explosive detection dog teams (currently only four teams are available statewide) to meet emerging risk and the inevitable increased screening that would be required in the event of an imminent terrorism risk or post-terrorist incident.
- Increase the capacity of our Critical Incident Response Team. The CIRT currently provides an in-field quick response capability to armed offender situations across Victoria and is deployed whenever a single routine event occurs in suburban Melbourne. In this age of terrorism, the immediate response capability of specialist police to the Melbourne CBD, a major capital city that hosts nearly a million people each day, is paramount.
- Provision of long-arm weapons for police to deal with the heightened terror threat, the potential for increased repower pre or post a terrorist incident. We also recommend the provision of an adequate regional response capability to armed offender situations until metropolitan resources arrive to assist.