Police begin patrolling city’s border as ring of steel ruled out
Two hundred police officers have begun roving patrols to ensure locked-down Melburnians stay out of regional Victoria as one of the state’s top cops revealed it was state government – not the police – which ruled out a repeat of last year’s “ring of steel”.
From Friday, mobile patrols will replace the hard border seen during last year’s restrictions, with roving officers instead assigned to monitor traffic on the state’s main arterial and back roads.
200 police have begun patrolling main and back roads in and out of metropolitan MelbourneCredit:Nine News
“Victoria Police in support of this health emergency, and to support government in making this decision, provided a document that outlined four options. One of those options was a ring of steel. We did not make the decision on which option to use.”
When asked about the comments on Friday afternoon, a government spokesman confirmed police had provided advice on the strengths and weaknesses of each option and, based on that advice, the government decided that a “ring of steel” approach was “not the most appropriate mechanism in this instance”.
Mr Nugent said on Friday that while a majority of Victorians had been abiding by the restrictions, a number of businesses had been fined for breaching the rules and a string of young people caught hosting house parties.
Those fined in the past 24 hours included a 27-year-old man from the Wyndham side of Little River who was caught drink-driving while visiting friends in Geelong.
Deputy Commissioner Rick NugentCredit:Rachel Mounsey
Mr Nugent said the man returned a blood-alcohol reading of .266.
“As well as being charged with drink-driving he will also receive a fine for $1652 for being outside a metropolitan area,” Mr Nugent said.
“We have an enormous amount of police dedicated to this operation to ensure people comply. You’re putting people at risk if you’re travelling outside of [metropolitan Melbourne] into those areas.”
Earlier this week, Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt revealed police resources being used for coronavirus operations included between 600 and 1200 officers working in hotel quarantine.
This is on top of the 250 officers already assigned to work Operation Sentinel, set up last year to respond to coronavirus-related jobs in the community.
On Friday, a police union spokesperson backed the government’s decision to chose mobile patrols over a hard border, but said the number of police being used for hotel quarantine should be minimised and potentially eliminated once a specific quarantine facility had been constructed.
They said the reduction of police resources needed for hotel quarantine duties should make the design of a standalone quarantine hub a “high priority.”
“The decision to task mobile patrols to police the border between Melbourne and regional Victoria is a far more efficient and effective method than the way police resources were used for static checkpoints,” they said.
“Ring-of-steel″ roadblocks became a fixture on Melbourne’s perimeter for four months in 2020.Credit:Jason South
“This approach has already resulted in higher police visibility on many more roads than the previous model managed, as well as in regional communities and townships,” they said.
There were four new cases of coronavirus in Victoria announced on Friday. It came as metropolitan Melbourne entered another week of lockdown as restrictions eased in the state’s regional areas.
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