NA­TION Plan to tackle crime’s source

Townsville Bulletin - - NATION - SHARRI MARKSON MARK MORRI

MORE Australian Fed­eral Po­lice would be sta­tioned off­shore at key hot spots to tackle ter­ror, cy­ber crime and drugs at its source, un­der en­force­ment plans be­ing de­vel­oped by govern­ment strate­gists.

Se­nior po­lice and Fed­eral Govern­ment sources have said there is a push for the AFP to hit transna­tional crime at the source and tackle the flow of drugs, crim­i­nal car­tels and ter­ror net­works up­stream be­fore it reaches Aus­tralia.

As the Home Af­fairs depart­ment is de­vel­oped, ques­tions are be­ing asked about what Australian polic­ing and in­tel­li­gence agen­cies need to do strate­gi­cally to get ahead.

Dis­cus­sions have in­cluded ex­am­in­ing the AFP’s re­sources to make sure they hit the car­tels off­shore be­fore dan­ger­ous drugs reach our shores, while tar­get­ing ter­ror net­works and other trans- na­tional syn­di­cates.

The AFP is un­der­stood to have firmly re­sisted any move to re­fo­cus its ef­forts, ar­gu­ing it al­ready has a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of its per­son­nel based off­shore – and that tak­ing a greater global fo­cus would en­dan­ger of­fi­cers’ lives.

The AFP also ob­jected to the cre­ation of Home Af­fairs, an­nounced last week.

While the AFP al­ready has off­shore of­fi­cers and bases, sources said Aus­tralia was fight­ing a los­ing bat­tle if we kept our fo­cus pri­mar­ily on the home front with­out es­ca­lat­ing ef­forts to tackle ter­ror and crim­i­nal net­works off­shore.

There is no crit­i­cism of AFP Com­mis­sioner An­drew Colvin but there are calls to re­turn the AFP to its op­er­a­tional might un­der for­mer Com­mis­sioner Mick Keelty.

Dur­ing the 2000s the AFP fol­lowed the FBI model which op­er­ates “across the globe to pro­tect the US from ter­ror­ism, es­pi­onage, cy­ber at­tacks and ma­jor crim­i­nal threats”.

But the rise of counter- ter­ror­ism de­railed that model with the fo­cus and new re­sources di­rected to­wards fight­ing lo­cal ter­ror­ist threats.

In the mean­time, pow­er­ful transna­tional crim­i­nal car­tels have taken their en­ter­prise to a so­phis­ti­cated new level.

Al­liances have been forged be­tween Chi­nese tri­ads, eastern Euro­pean crime gangs and bikies with the cashed- up groups now form­ing glob­alised sup­ply chains, laun­der­ing money and drugs into Aus­tralia. Crim­i­nals have also started work­ing with ter­ror­ists to crack Aus­tralia’s sys­tems.

An in­creas­ing num­ber of ma­jor NSW crime fig­ures are also mov­ing over­seas to run their op­er­a­tions.

“They come un­der a lot less scru­tiny over­seas,” a se­nior po­lice source said.

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