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Australia centralises national security agencies amid heightened threat

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday Australia’s domestic security bodies, including the police and the national spy agency, will be centralised under a single minister as Canberra tackles the rising threat of “lone wolf” attacks.

Oversight of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the police force had previously been the responsibility of three government officials but would now be handled by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, Turnbull said, under a model similar to that used by the British Home Office.

Turnbull said the centralised model would ensure greater coordination between Australia’s security agencies.

The national security overhaul came as Australia, a staunch ally of the United States, reshapes its counter-terrorism response after a series of lone-wolf attacks and heightened fear of attacks by home-grown militants returning from fighting in the Middle East.

“Our security environment is being shaped by changes in our region and beyond,” Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.

“It is being shaped by the very real threat of home-grown terrorism that is increased with the spread of global Islamist terrorism,” he said.

The Cabinet shake-up came a day after Turnbull said Australia’s military would be more readily deployed to respond to “terrorist incidents” at home.

Under those proposed law changes, state and territory governments would be able to call for military help at any time after a “terror incident” has been declared .

Previously, the military could only be called upon once police concluded they could no longer deal with an incident.

Australia’s domestic security policies have come under close scrutiny since a lone gunman staged a 16-hour siege at a Sydney cafe in December 2014, during which two hostages were killed.

A coronial inquiry found in May that police failed to respond quickly enough to end the siege, which has been described as Australia’s deadliest incident inspired by Islamic State extremists .

The gunman, who was killed by police, had no direct ties to the militant group.

Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Paul Tait

Traffic warning and heightened security for those attending sell-out …

Top girl band Little Mix are about to perform a sell out gig in the North-east.

Durham s Riverside Emirates1 cricket ground is gearing up to welcome the 15,000-strong crowd on Saturday. And heightened security and parking warnings have been put in place as thousands are expected to flock to the venue. Durham Constabulary has developed a traffic management plan for Chester-le-Street.

There will be designated pick up points for those getting lifts to the venue.

Little Mix’s Leigh-Anne Pinnock (left), Jade Thirlwall (right), Jesy Nelson (second left) and Perrie Edwards (second right)

Tickets for the concert quickly sold out for the Summer Shout Out tour2 . More than 15,000 people are expected to attend, so those not going to the concert are advised to avoid the area. Gates open at 5pm and it is scheduled to end at around 9.45pm.

It will be the second hit tour to visit the ground this summer after Rod Stewart s gig last month.

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Limited parking is still available from the Box Office at a cost of 10. Two park and ride sites are located at Lambton Estates and Belmont . They open at 3pm.

Gates will open at 5pm and concert-goers are advised to arrive early. The two support acts, Sheppard and Ella Eyre, are expected to start from 6pm. There will be increased security measures at each entrance point and a heightened security presence in all areas of the ground.

Those attending are asked to be patient at the end of the concert, as police work to clear the venue and surrounding areas. A drop off point is located in Riverside Park . All cars must turn left when exiting and follow the diversion signs.

References

  1. ^ Emirates (www.gazettelive.co.uk)
  2. ^ the Summer Shout Out tour (www.gazettelive.co.uk)

Metrolink and bus network gets security boost with more than 70 new safety staff

Extra police and security teams will begin patrolling Metrolink and the region s buses next week as part of a passenger safety drive. The move comes after KeolisAmey take over the tram network from 2am on Saturday morning after RATP Dev Ltd lost its bid to remain at the helm. And bosses have unveiled plans to introduce 900 extra hours of security support a week with 24 new TravelSafe Officers (TSOs).

TravelSafe, a security team across buses and trams, will be supported by 50 new PCSOs from Monday . They will join a new police sergeant and four new police constables. It follows months of concerning reports of anti-social behaviour on public transport – including the incident in May where a driver was treated in hospital after a brick was thrown through his windscreen from a bridge in Oldham. Chief Supt John O Hare, from Greater Manchester Police, said: The introduction of the TravelSafe PCSOs enhances our existing team, which includes an inspector, sergeant and police constables.

He said the team would be dedicated to ensuring the safety of passengers and dealing with any incidents on the networks. Aline Frantzen, new MD of KeolisAmey Metrolink said one of their key commitments was to enhance safety and security to improve passenger experience. She said: We are looking forward to working with TfGM, our partners and the community to implement our exciting plans for what is already a high-performing network . Our approach will be focused on collaboratively working to keep Greater Manchester moving and growing.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said he was committed to making Greater Manchester s public transport the safest. He added: I promised to prioritise a greater staffing presence on our public transport in the evenings and early mornings and today we are delivering on that promise. The TravelSafe team uses intelligence and crime data to target patrols at key times and places.

Chief Supt John O’Hare

It s split into four units covering four geographical areas so they can get to grips with their communities. Transport bosses insist crime and anti-social behaviour is relatively rare on buses and trams, with 206m journeys made by bus and 37m by tram in 2016. Matt Kitchen, operations director for Stagecoach Manchester, said it was a great example of how operators, transport bosses and the police are working together to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.

He said safety was their priority . First Manchester s boss Adrian Worsfold agreed, adding: As a result of the TravelSafe Partnership we have already seen the positive impact that the presence of security officers can bring to our services, as we work together to reduce anti-social behaviour. Coun Andrew Fender, chairman of the TfGM committee, added: These are exciting times for Metrolink and the city-region and I warmly welcome KAM as the Metrolink operator .

Together we will further realise the full potential and benefits of the unprecedented growth and investment we are overseeing in the network.