UPDATE: Policing strategies disrupt planned COVID-19 protests

Saturday, 21 August 2021 04:51:16 PM

Police have arrested 47 people and issued more than 260 Penalty Infringement Notices in a swift and coordinated response to disrupt protest activity in the Sydney CBD and across regional NSW.

Earlier today (Saturday 21 August 2021), a high-visibility policing operation was launched across Sydney and regional NSW, to prevent, disrupt and respond to any planned mass gathering or protest activity.

More than 1500 police, including general duties officers from across the Central Metropolitan Region, assisted by specialist police from the Public Order and Riot Squad (PORS), Operations Support Group (OSG), Police Transport Command, Traffic and Highway Patrol Command and the Dog and Mounted Unit, were involved in the operation.

Additionally, police issued a prohibition notice to taxi, rideshare and passenger services from conveying passengers to the Sydney CBD, to restrict the movement of potential protesters.

During the state-wide operation, 47 people were arrested and are currently in the process of being charged.

Of note, a 32-year-old Five Dock man was arrested after allegedly assaulting a police officer at Mountain Street, Ultimo, about 12.30pm today. He was taken to Surry Hills Police Station, where charges are expected to be laid. The male constable was taken to hospital for treatment after sustaining injuries to his neck and head.

In addition, police issued 261 Penalty Infringement Notices for breaches of the public health orders.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said he was disappointed that some people still ignored all warnings to stay at home and keep their loved ones safe.

“We saw the community backlash after the last protest and that was a genuine reflection of how they saw the actions of a small minority,” Mr Elliott said.

“That small minority has again chosen to blatantly ignore the very clear, repeated warnings of NSW Police, which is disappointing, frustrating and – frankly – disgraceful.

“The actions they have taken are likely to prolong the very lockdown they were protesting about.

“I thank every police officer involved in today’s operation for doing their duty to keep safe the vast majority of the population who are doing the right thing by observing the public health orders and working towards a positive outcome,” Mr Elliott said.

Metropolitan Field Operations Commander, Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon, said the operational policing response was supported by road and transport strategies to minimise any crowd movements that would allow would-be protesters to converge.

“NSW Police successfully disrupted the activities of a large number of people attempting to travel into the Sydney CBD today to attend an unauthorised protest,” Deputy Commissioner Lanyon said.

“The traffic operations around Sydney identified 137 people who were in breach of the Public Health Order either by not wearing face coverings, or who had no reasonable excuse to be travelling outside their local government area (LGA).

“As part of road policing operation, nearly 38,000 vehicles were checked at 14 designated traffic points stationed on major roads leading into the city centre, and 120 mobile units were deployed across our roadways.

“A small number of people who once again deliberately endangered the health and safety of others in the community by attempting to protest near Ultimo were quickly dispersed by police.

“During the state-wide operation, nearly 50 people were arrested and as investigations continue, we expect to identify more people through CCTV and social media footage.

“I want to acknowledge the community who have had their own lives disrupted in some way today due to these unauthorised protests, we thank you for ongoing support.

“I also wish to thank the 1500 police officers who were deployed across the state for their professional response during today’s activities,” Deputy Commissioner Lanyon said.

Police continue to appeal to the community to report suspected breaches of any public health order or behaviour which may impact on the health and safety of the community by contacting Crime Stoppers: on 1800 333 000 or via https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence.

The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.