G20 stretches police manpower and leaves rest of state undermanned and at mercy of criminals
By Greg Stolz
July 13, 2013
THE G20 summit in Brisbane next year could stretch Queensland's thin blue line to breaking point and leave other parts of the state at the mercy of criminals, an ex-top cop turned criminologist has warned.Terry Goldsworthy, a former long-serving Queensland Police Service detective inspector who is now associate professor in criminology at Bond University, said the QPS would struggle to cope with the combination of the G20, a major restructure and the deployment of 150 officers to Papua New Guinea.
Dr Goldsworthy said thousands of police would be needed for the world leaders summit and he was worried the QPS had "too much going on" with the restructure and PNG deployment.
"I think it's going to be a real challenge,'' he said.
"They have the massive policing task of G20, they've just gotten rid of 25 per cent of the state's most senior officers in the restructure and they're sending officers to PNG.
"I just worry that there's too much going on at once. Police can't afford to muck up the G20 because the eyes of the world will be on us.''
Dr Goldsworthy, who finished his 28-year QPS career last year as an inspector with the Ethical Standards Command, said G20 would put "huge demands" on police.
He questioned the wisdom of making 100 of the state's 400 commissioned officers redundant at a time when experience would be needed to manage the G20.
"With the purge of the senior ranks, you've got more junior officers making higher-level decisions,'' he said.
Dr Goldsworthy said large numbers of police would be seconded to Brisbane to help protect world leaders.
He said only a handful of detectives were left on the Gold Coast during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting at Coolum in 2002.
"You've got to ask if police are prepared and resourced for the G20 and, if they are, what will the effect be on local crime?'' he said.
"With so many police in Brisbane, the smart criminals will already be thinking of opportunities elsewhere in the state.''
A Queensland Police Union spokesman said the G20 would be a "massive" policing and security exercise but did not believe it would unduly stretch resources, as Australian Federal Police and armed forces would also be involved.
He said officers were more concerned with issues such as whether foreign bodyguards would be allowed to carry weapons.
The spokesman said the 150 officers being sent to PNG represented a "fraction" of police numbers and the "rules of engagement" for their deployment was the main worry.
Dr Louise Porter, a senior research fellow at the Centre of Excellent in Policing and Security, said the G20 would be "labour intensive" but believed police were equipped to handle it.
She said the restructure would streamline the QPS and increase frontline police.