STATE PROTECTION SUPPORT UNIT
The Hon. MARIE FICARRA:
My question is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Will the Minister update the House on the activities of the NSW Police Force's State Protection Support Unit?
The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER:
I thank the honourable member for her question. The State Protection Support Unit provides specialist support to the Tactical Operations Unit of the NSW Police Force in resolving high-risk incidents in regional New South Wales. The Tactical Operations Unit is a specialist arm of the NSW Police Force that provides extraordinary assistance to operational police in high-risk situations on a domestic and counterterrorism level. Comprising part-time tactical operatives from non-metropolitan areas, the State Protection Support Unit consists of police whose primary duties cover a wide range of activities including general duties, highway patrol, investigations, and weapons training.
The members of the unit are highly trained. The types of operations that they can be called upon to undertake, in conjunction with the Tactical Operations Unit, include containing siege and armed offender situations; resolving siege and hostage situations; arresting armed and dangerous offenders, often in high-risk situations; conducting high-risk searches of premises; and escorting and providing security for internationally protected persons, heads of State and holders of high office who are assessed and determined to be at risk. The unit also provides support services for high-risk major operations.
Each year the State Protection Support Unit is involved in approximately 60 operations. These include complex, pre-planned operations and the execution of high-risk search warrants. While primarily a regional resource, the State Protection Support Unit can be deployed throughout the State to assist the Tactical Operations Unit. A good example of this is Strike Force Durkin. That operation led to the arrest of Malcolm Naden, who had been wanted by police since 2005. Malcolm Naden's arrest is a perfect example of the hard work of officers from many commands as they worked together in some of the roughest terrain in the mid North Coast hinterland. More than 500 officers were involved in the operation, including three regional State Protection Support Units that worked alongside the Tactical Operations Unit in the search and arrest of Malcolm Naden. The operation was also supported by an extensive interagency response that included the Rural Fire Service, the Department of Land and Property Information and specialist paramedics from the Ambulance Service of New South Wales.
The ability to provide a timely and effective response to high-risk incidents in country New South Wales requires the State Protection Support Unit to be highly trained and skilled in special weapons and tactics. To achieve this, qualified operators complete 12 training days each year in addition to attending a five-day annual recertification camp. The range of skills include bushcraft and navigation, close quarter tactics, entry methods, ballistic shield operations, cordon and perimeter operations, advanced weapons training, and less than lethal tactics. The unit personnel can also be trained as tactical team instructors and field supervisors. Tactical team instructors conduct advanced special weapons training for the State Protection Support Unit, while field supervisors perform command and control functions in the determination and implementation of tactical plans to resolve high-risk incidents. Specialist operations such as the State Protection Support Unit will continue to be deployed across the State to provide the expertise necessary for a safe and secure New South Wales.