NSW, and in particular Sydney, remains an attractive target for terrorists. Whilst historically terrorists often sought to attack official personnel and property such as diplomatic missions and military forces, such as the bombing of the Australian Government Embassy in Jakarta in September 2004 and the thwarted attacks on the Holsworthy Army Barracks in Sydney in 2012, they will also look for critical infrastructure, transport networks and/or 'softer' targets such as places of mass gatherings.
The NSW Police Force Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Command, Protection Programs Unit, is responsible for the delivery of counter terrorism protective security strategies as well as providing counter terrorism capability and capacity advice to the NSW Police Force's Executive and the NSW Government. The Protection Programs Unit engages with a number of businesses that fall under the definition of a Place of Mass Gathering, and engage with owners and operators of Critical Infrastructure to help prepare for, prevent, respond and recover from an act of terrorism. Furthermore the Protection Programs Unit encourages the flow of information between the private sector and Police on a wide variety of terrorism related issues.
NSW has a robust economy and is one of the most attractive locations in the Asia Pacific region in which to do business. The characteristics that make NSW a great place to live and work can also make it attractive to terrorists. As a result the NSW Government is committed to engaging with a number of different sectors on counter-terrorism issues.
Places of mass gathering
Places or venues where large numbers of people gather are referred to as 'places of mass gathering'. It is believed some of these might present an opportunity for terrorists to cause a large number of deaths and injuries from an attack.
These places by their nature allow public access, and many forms of security that are applied in the protection of critical infrastructure may not be appropriate for protecting places of mass gathering.
Places of mass gathering may include but are not limited to:
- sporting venues
- shopping complexes/open air markets
- tourism and entertainment venues/attractions
- cultural facilities
- hotels and convention centres
- public transport hubs
- major planned events
The identification of a place of mass gathering is based on attractiveness and not on a specific quantity of people. Given the pervasive threat to a diverse range of targets, the criteria for determining attractive places of mass gathering cannot be precise.
Places of mass gathering are an attractive target for terrorists. By their very nature, these places normally encourage access for the general public with a minimum of security controls. This presents terrorists with various potential opportunities to carry out an attack that would could create a large amount of casualties and inflict economic loss on NSW.
These factors have guided the Australia-New Zealand Counter Terrorism Committee in creating a nationally consistent approach to address the threat of terrorism in relation to the protection of places of mass gathering.
Critical infrastructure provides services that are essential for everyday life such as energy, food, water, transport, communications, health, banking and finance. A disruption to critical infrastructure could have a range of serious implications for business, governments and the community.
A Critical Infrastructure Resilience Strategy is coordinated nationally and implemented by each state. In NSW, the Critical Infrastructure Protection and Resilience Program within NSW is delivered jointly by the NSW Department of Justice and the NSW Police Force. They work closely with other NSW agencies, the State Emergency Management Committee and with the owners and operators of critical infrastructure.
NSW critical infrastructure is both publicly and privately owned and managed. Identifying critical infrastructure within NSW is an ongoing process, and is subject to continuous review. Major components of critical infrastructure will most likely remain fixed, while some other assets may become less critical over time. For example when a new piece of infrastructure is constructed this might provide a level of redundancy for another asset that was previously considered critical.
Although every effort is made to protect critical infrastructure and the community generally from acts of terrorism, no guarantees can ever be made that an attack will not occur. Good business practices such as applying risk management techniques to planning processes, conducting regular reviews of risk assessments and plans, as well as developing and reviewing business continuity plans, will assist businesses in mitigating potential risks.
Enhanced security procedures have been implemented in and around transport services and Sydney's major transport interchanges.
The NSW Government has made significant commitments to reviewing and improving transport security and has a network of more than 10,000 CCTV cameras on the rail network alone. CCTV cameras monitor the entries and exits of railway stations, ticket vending machines, help points, railway platforms, stabling yards, some car parks, bus interchanges and other key areas on the railway network. CCTV footage is able to be shared with the NSW Police Force. Sydney Buses has CCTV on every bus in the fleet (more than 2000 buses), which can be accessed and shared with the NSW Police Force.
Security initiatives on transport services in NSW include:
- regular patrols of the transport network by the Police Transport Command
- more than 10,000 CCTV cameras on the rail network, which are able to be monitored 24 hours a day
- over 7,000 high intensity lights and 780 customer help points across the rail network
- onboard CCTV and Help Points being rolled out on new trains
- Transport for NSW continues to work closely with the Police Transport Command on managing security across the transport network.
Following the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, the international community implemented a system to secure the maritime transport sector against the threat of terrorism. The International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, developed by the International Maritime Organization in December 2002, was the result and international obligations requiring port and shipping operators to have approved security plans came into effect on 1 July 2004.
This is supported in Australia by the Maritime Transport Security Act 2003 to implement the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code in Australia that came into effect on 1 July 2004. In 2005 the Act was extended and renamed the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003. The amended Act, and Regulations under it, establishes the legislative basis for also approving security plans for offshore oil and gas facilities.
To further provide security around Sydney Harbour which remains an attractive target for terrorists, the NSW Government has invested in major improvements to the NSW Police Marine Area Command fleet and security and emergency arrangements. More information can be found here.