CBD security slow to start up

By William Arnott

With an increase in the amount of vehicular attacks in populated areas, new security measures are being planned for Melbourne’s CBD in the wake of the Bourke St murders.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the State Government was working with the City of Melbourne and Victoria Police to implement “everything from bollards, planter boxes … then of course sirens and other warning devices”.

The measures could cost more than $10 million to potentially save lives in future incidents. However, any new measures are still a long way from being implemented.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said on 3AW: “Some of these ideas were at a very early stage.”

“But for instance when I said to police, ‘who’s got the best practice?’ They couldn’t tell me,” he said. “I don’t want to create fortress Melbourne.”

Terrorism expert at Victoria University Ramón Spaaij said the trade-off between public safety and liveability of public spaces was a delicate balance which could end up with people feeling less safe.

“The more of these measures you put in place, the more people start to feel unsafe,” he said. “People start noticing the increased security and start assessing the possible risks and threats.”

He said bollards could protect some targets, but did not mean attacks would not happen.

“They can help by diverting attacks away, simply because these lone individuals may not have the ability to overcome these barriers,” Mr Spaaij said.

“Then the problem is target displacement. They may target softer targets – crowded areas like sports stadiums, shopping malls. Festivals like Moomba and parades are hard to secure.”

The rarity of these attacks makes it difficult to perform a proper cost/benefit analysis. And the move to secure the CBD has political motivations behind it too.

“If something like this happened again, it would look really bad for the Victorian Government. There are already people questioning whether it could have been prevented,” Mr Spaaij said.

Melbourne East Police Station commander Snr Sgt Adam Tanner said decisions like these would require a lot of consultation between police, council, security agencies and the State Government.

“I think the great thing about any of these decisions is that there’s a lot of consultation,” he said.

“There’ll certainly be a lot of consultation with emergency services, transport authorities to ensure that access to the city and the response to any emergency incident, or alternatively public transport system, is not impacted.”

“With any decision of that nature, there’s always the balancing act in relation to the balancing of security as opposed to the movement of people and access to parts of the city,” Snr Sgt Tanner said.

The local community is also important to stopping attacks before they happen.

“Everyone has a role to play in security,” he said. “The community is a whole set of eyes and ears and they certainly hear and see things that police don’t.”

Director of security company GK Solutions Gavin Queit said the measures being talked about would help keep Melbourne safe and reduce the effects of any vehicle attacks.

“These are helpful not only from a terrorist point of view but even protects from regular vehicle accidents,” he said.

“There are numerous incidents where accidents have occurred where cars have gone through walls of kindergartens, or sometimes you see footage of a car through a shop window,” Mr Queit said.

Currently there have been no plans announced for the locations or the nature of any rollout.

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