Push for more Games police and cameras

Victoria Police will cancel all annual leave and reschedule some non-essential training during March 2006 in a bid to have extra officers on the beat during the Commonwealth Games.

Acting commander Brendan Bannan said he could not reveal how many officers would be freed up, but said there would be a "substantial" boost to police numbers. Police also said extra security cameras, bollarding and fencing might be used around Melbourne to support the security effort.

Mr Bannan said any decision to implement such measures would be made in consultation with various groups, including the Melbourne City Council and the State Government.

"Any changes that you see will be consistent with what normally operates in Melbourne," he said

Liberty Victoria president Brian Walters likened the prospect of more security cameras to when CCTV units were used for the 1981 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Melbourne.

"We were assured that it was not the thin end of the wedge, but there are now hundreds of security cameras in Melbourne," he said. "Where there are crowds... there is always pressure to create security and that can mean a loss of civil liberties."

Melbourne City Council reversed a decision to shut down the city's network of security cameras in April 2004. A consultant's study showed little evidence that the cameras prevented crime, but Lord Mayor John So said the 23 cameras would be especially useful during the Games. Security cameras will also be installed around the Games Village at Parkville, and Mr Walters said they must not be allowed to stay permanently.

"Once the need no longer exists at the end of the Commonwealth Games, they should be removed," he said.

Police said the security presence at Games events would be no greater than what Victorians were used to when attending events such as the 2000 Olympic soccer matches at the MCG.

Mr Bannan said the force would maintain service as usual to the rest of Victoria. "There is a legacy out of it all. If you run an event of this size . . . you end up with a better trained police force, which makes it a cost-effective exercise," he said.

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