05 Mar MCG, Etihad Stadium: Body scanners at sporting events latest counter-terror measure
Originally Posted on The Age (Click here)
Sports fans may soon be greeted with high-tech body scanners at the gates of Melbourne’s major stadiums.
The new anti-terror measure is being considered by Victoria Police as it steps up its security protocols in crowded places across the city.
Similar to airport security, spectators at big sporting events could have their possessions and bags scanned separately.
There are also plans to introduce tough bag restrictions in which only clear plastic bags would be allowed into events held at major stadiums, such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
But despite media reports on Saturday, Victoria Police said at this stage the additional security measures were under consideration and there were no specific changes to announce.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Mick Hermans said there were no imminent plans to upgrade security at Melbourne’s major stadiums.
“The story in the Herald Sun talked about what could possibly occur in the future, depending upon the security environment and known intelligence,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Hermans said. “The changes described are certainly not imminent at this time. It is not a fait accompli.”
He said ramping up security was not “inevitable” and would depend on the situation. But he said police were in touch with venues before every match.
“Rest assured … if we received intelligence that indicated that changes would need to be made, Victoria Police would not hesitate to act,” he said.
“The facts are the security environment has changed. It has changed from what it was five years ago and what this is about is making sure we are best placed to meet the environment not only today, but what it may be in five years’ time.”
It follows on from the installation of about 150 concrete bollards around busy landmarks and intersections in the CBD including Southern Cross Station, Bourke Street and Federation Square.
The bollards are part of a $10 million security upgrade announced last month to prevent terrorism and hinder vehicle rampages.
On Saturday, Victoria Police said it had established a new body to develop a set of security standards in crowded places.
The head of the counter terrorism command, Assistant Commissioner Ross Guenther, said the Crowded Places Security Advisory Group would work with sporting codes, shopping centres and education and entertainment hubs.
“In addition to the advisory group, police are continually reviewing security arrangements with event and venue management to ensure best practice at all crowded places and major events,” Commissioner Guenther said.
He said there was no specific threat to any particular locations or groups.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said: “While Victoria Police and its advisory groups will consider all options to improve the safety and security of the community, there are no specific changes to announce at this time.”
There have been increased police patrols at the MCG this year following terror attacks overseas.
Earlier this year, water-filled barriers were trialled around the grounds, after consultation with an external security specialist.
Victoria Police has already met with the heads of Australian sporting bodies to discuss the new measures.