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ASIA is concerned that organised crime may be infiltrating private security firms.

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Wednesday 11 July 2007

ASIA is concerned that organised crime may be infiltrating private security firms


MARK COLVIN: The body representing private security firms says it's worried that organised crime has infiltrated the industry. 


But despite those concerns, the Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock says private security guards will be used at the APEC Summit in Sydney. 


In May, the Government announced that it would spend nearly $9-million dollars investigating the links between private security firms and criminal gangs. 


But it says there's no need to worry that private guards will be working at APEC. 


Mark Tobin reports. 


MARK TOBIN: With the leaders of 21 countries converging on Sydney in September for the APEC Summit, there will be a level of security in the city never seen before, not even during the Olympics. 


Around 3,000 New South Wales police officers will be on duty, with police from other states, New Zealand and the military also being brought in to help. 


To cover any gaps the government is hiring around 18-hunderd private security guards. 


There's just one problem. For some time, there have been question about the quality of security guards, and industry links to the criminal underworld. 


The threat's been judged to be so great that the Australian Crime Commission has been given $8.7-million dollars to look at the problem. 


Even the head of the Australian Security Industry Association is worried that criminal gangs have infiltrated the sector. 


Brian De Caires says he's glad the industry is being investigated. 


BRIAN DE CAIRES: Absolutely. All that we want to see is that it is a level playing field, and that everyone plays to the same rules, and that's where the enforcement and compliance by regulatory authorities is fundamental. 


MARK TOBIN: But despite the links to organised crime, the Attorney-General Philip Ruddock was quick today to dismiss a report which suggested that senior police had scrapped a plan to use private security guards at APEC because it was too risky. 


PHILIP RUDDOCK: The officers I have spoken to know nothing of the report. Now that doesn't mean to say that the issues about security agencies and dealing with appropriate standards aren't live issues, they are matters about which I spoke today.  


They are matters in which I have raised with State Governments. We need to have very strong and rigorous arrangements for checking on the suitability of staff who work in the industry. 


MARK TOBIN: Mr Ruddock says he went to an APEC conference in Cairns last week where private security guards were used. 


He says they will again have a role to play at the summit in September. 


PHILIP RUDDOCK: It won't be all of the activities. They won't necessarily be involved in guarding, say, a visiting President, but there will be other aspects of APEC security arrangements in which Commonwealth and State agencies will be involved, and where the private sector may be augmenting that work. 


MARK TOBIN: And despite his concerns about crime gang involvement in the sector, Brian De Caires from the Australian Security Industry Association believes the threat posed by the private security guards hired to work at APEC will be minimal. 


BRIAN DE CAIRES: There are a number of contractors, I think a thousand odd personnel that will be used for a variety of jobs from screening to sort of crowd control, who have gone through checking and the clearance before they will be able to work. 


So they will be able to do that function, indeed they’ve been done that at the Commonwealth Games, the FINA Swimming Championships. There's been a number of events held over the years where the industry has worked under different law enforcement agencies to assist in the staging of events. 


MARK TOBIN: But for all of these concerns, the head of the New South Wales police Counter-Terrorism Unit, Assistant Commissioner Nick Kaldas, says the real worry for police during the APEC Summit is that someone could slip under the radar and not be identified as a threat. 


NICK KALDAS: It has to be something that worries us, the so-called 'lone wolf factor', somebody who doesn't communicate with anybody else. Therefore, we have no way of knowing or intercepting or listening in or hearing about what it is they're intending. This has to be one of our concerns. 


MARK COLVIN: The Assistant New South Wales Police Commissioner Nick Kaldas ending that report from Mark Tobin.