Elite detectives investigating drug gangs and bikies are being wasted as ‘coronavirus babysitters’ as officials struggle to keep up with ballooning numbers in hotel quarantine
- Police forces around Australia are rethinking the use of private security firms
- This is set to leave a gaping hole in personnel needed to guard quarantine hotels
- Homicide detectives and organised crime investigators are pulled from the job
- With police numbers stretched there are concerns crime rates will skyrocket
Some of Australia’s most seasoned homicide detectives and organised crime investigators are being pulled from the job to babysit return travellers at quarantine hotels.
During the initial stages of the coronavirus outbreak in March and April, large numbers of police and military were seconded to man quarantine facilities.
But as the curve began to flatten, state governments eased the burden by hiring private security contractors.
Those arrangements have now come under heavy fire following allegations private security staff were to blame for the recent avalanche of infections engulfing Melbourne.
In the wake of the debacle, police in other states are being forced to bring in ‘bikie cops’ and ‘child protection investigators’ to make up the numbers at quarantine hotels, the Courier Mail reported.
Returning overseas travellers are seen as they are checked-in to a airport hotel in Brisbane
Returning overseas travellers are pictured being ushered by police into the Inter Continental Hotel for the beginning of their 14-day imposed quarantine in Sydney (pictured)
Queensland were all set to bring in private security teams to assist police with the 4,600 individuals subject to active quarantine orders across the state.
But after the blunder in Melbourne, which allegedly lead to a second outbreak of the virus, they’ve rethought the plan.
Instead, Queensland Police are being forced to pull ‘bikie cops’ and ‘child protection investigators’ from their cases in order to make up the numbers.
Queensland police ranks have been stretched even further with the reopening of the state’s borders on Friday, as droves of sun-starved southerners head north for a winter getaway.
A quarantine traveller is pictured checking into an airport hotel in Brisbane where they will spend 14 days in isolation
A guard wearing an Australian Concert and Entertainment Security uniform is seen slumped over in a chair at Sydney’s Inter Continental hotel at about 3am on May 15 (pictured)
But with the free movement of people now restored and the number of cops on the street thinned, a senior officer in the Australian Federal Police warned that organised crime will skyrocket.
‘With the opening of the NSW-QLD border it is anticipated there will be an increase in the movement of border controlled drugs due to these shortages in the marketplace,’ AFP Acting Commander Todd Hunter said.
‘There is also likely to be an increase in the movement of money and possibly firearms as offenders attempt to return to their criminal offending.’
Queensland Liberal National Party police spokesman Dan Purdie outlaw bikie gangs would look to take advantage of overstretched police resources because ‘the thin blue line has never been thinner’.
Returning overseas travellers are pictured arriving at a Sydney hotel for mandatory quarantine as police stand by (pictured)
A police officer looks on as passengers arrive at the Duxton Hotel in Perth (pictured)
‘All members of the public should be concerned about the rise in violence and that the specialist detectives charged with investigating bikies are now being redeployed to act as security guards at hotels and border checkpoints,’ he said.
Any new international arrivals are required by law to undergo a mandatory 14-day period of isolation under guard.
Five star hotels have been used as quarantine facilities since the borders were closed on March 23.
Although strict infection protocols are supposed to be upheld at these facilities it has been claimed that security personnel in Melbourne breached the rules by taking returned travellers to fast food restaurants and on shopping trips to 7Eleven.
Police stand guard outside the Swissotel Hotel in Market Street, Sydney, on March 26 (pictured)
Police are seen storming a property on the south coast of New South Wales allegedly linked to an outlaw motorcycle gang on July 27 (pictured)
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews ordered a judicial inquiry into the fiasco that has contributed to over 1,000 positive COVID-19 tests in the past week.
The professionalism of private security companies was also called into question in New South Wales recently after a photo emerged of a contractor sleeping on the job at a Sydney’s Inter Continental hotel.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Queensland Police for comment.
INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED BREACHES AT MELBOURNE QUARANTINE HOTELS
The allegations which will be investigated include:
- Guards shaking hands with each other and sharing lifts
- Quarantined families visiting other guests within the hotel to play card games with each other
- Limited training being offered to security guards prior to shifts
- Security wearing personal protective equipment for extended periods of time without changing it