The 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will be one of the biggest logistical challenges the Queensland Police Service has ever faced, Assistant Commissioner Peter Crawford says.
With less than three years until the Games begin, preparations are already well underway.
In April 2018, more than 6,500 athletes, 25,000 volunteers and tens of thousands of spectators will descend on the tourist strip for the month-long event.
Police will have to secure 18 competitions venues across not only the Gold Coast but Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns.
Assistant Commissioner Crawford, who is in charge of the Commonwealth Games Group, said it would be a difficult operation, particularly during a heightened terror alert environment.
“G20 was a major challenge for us in delivering a security operation but the Commonwealth Games will be every bit as challenging,” he said.
“I think in G20 as well we showed that the Queensland Police Service is capable of presenting a very engaged and friendly perspective but also being very professional and competent in terms of safety and security.”
Assistance Commissioner Crawford said the Games would involve about 3,000 police over 29 days.
“We appreciate at the moment that we’re in a heightened security threat environment and we’re planning accordingly,” he said.
“We don’t anticipate that between now and the Games that that is going to get a lot better than it is now so we’re planning for a difficult security operation.”
New security systems going up at Games venues
However, organisers said they wanted to maintain the event’s reputation as the “friendly Games”.
Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) head of security Danny Baade said getting the right balance was crucial.
“The security blends in with the event itself but it’s very important that you do get that balance right and that we don’t have too many security people out in front so that it gives the wrong atmosphere for the Games,” he said.
Many security measures will not be obvious to the public eye, including an extensive CCTV network.
“When you go to a venue to enjoy some sport, you see the traditional signs of security,” Mr Baade said.
“A couple of security guards, you might see some police, you might see some fences.
“That’s not the only layer, there are many, many layers that people will actually travel through before they get anywhere near a venue.
“The CCTV network we have on the Gold Coast is already quite comprehensive but at the venues that we’re building they are much larger than our existing venues so we’re putting in new systems in those venues.”
Legislation will give police special powers during Games
The Major Events Act, which will be in place during the Games, will allow trained civilians to ask people to remove an outer layer of clothing and ask to search possession and vehicles, if they have a reason to do so.
Criminal Lawyer Bill Potts said it could create issues for volunteers.
“They may find themselves in dangerous circumstances if people are carrying weapons, but more importantly untrained people uncertain of the rights and obligations of the people who are being searched may well blunder into positions where they’re effectively harming,” he said.
Commonwealth Games Minister Kate Jones said the legislation had been successful at past events.
“The act has been successfully used to facilitate the Asian Cup Soccer and Townsville 600 motor event and will also be used on the Gold Coast later this year for the GC600 V8s,” she said.
“We continue to talk with government agencies to discuss their experiences with the legislation to ensure it is working effectively.
“An authorised person who is not a police officer may only ask a patron to consent to a non-invasive screening inspection if it is considered reasonably necessary and tells the person the reason for the request.
“If consent is not granted, it cannot proceed.”
Story By: Ashleigh Stevenson | ABC News | 30th August 2015
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