Commander Norm Hazzard
The State Protection Group (SPG) is directly responsible for:
- protecting endangered witnesses
- resolving siege and hostage situations, as well as armed offender situations
- providing a negotiation service in high risk and critical situations
- undertaking searches of premises in high risk situations
- the arrest of armed and dangerous offenders
- escorting and securing dangerous prisoners in high risk situations
- providing support services for major operations
- rescue and bomb disposal operations
- the escort and security of VIPs
- building security through the Security Management Branch.
The SPG was established to deal with extraordinary situations which present a danger to members of the public or the Force. The SPG directly support operational police with difficult and high risk situations such as siege and hostage negotiation, rescue and bomb disposal, counter terrorist operations and the securing of dangerous prisoners. These are resolved wherever possible by containment and negotiation rather than by armed force. State Protection Group negotiators are highly trained in crisis negotiation to a level considered among the highest in the world.
Established in 1991, the SPG rationalised the resources of the Special Weapons & Operations Section (SWOS), the Witness Security Unit, Regional Tactical Response Groups and the Rescue Squad. Subsequently, the Security Management Branch and the Bomb Disposal Unit have joined the group.
Tactical Operations Unit
Since 1945, SWOS officers handled all high risk response and negotiation situations 24 hours’ a day.
In 1981 the Tactical Response Group was formed to deal with riot control, containment and prison emergency response. The resources and expertise of both groups were combined to form the Tactical Operations Unit, which provides extraordinary assistance to operational police in high risk incidents on a 24 hour basis.
Witness Security Unit
The WSU was established to implement the witness protection program, which protects and secures the safety of witnesses giving evidence on behalf of the Crown. Functions include escorts, providing safe accommodation and other security measures as required.
Highly trained negotiators are on call across the state who respond to their substantive commanders. When a situation arises requiring negotiation, these officers are called immediately and operate under the supervision of the Negotiation Unit.
The main function of this unit is to provide specific intelligence information to the negotiators or Tactical Response Unit officers involved in the resolution of high risk incidents. This intelligence might include information on the people involved (offenders, hostages or suspects), or the premises (eg. photographs and plans).
Security Management Branch
The Security Management Branch provides high quality protective security to selected police and government buildings. Members are sworn in as special constables.
Rescue/Bomb Disposal Unit
Apart from responding to 000 calls, the Police Rescue Unit provides a specialist search and rescue response in direct support of operational police in situations of any risk category. This support extends from searches for evidence, to working with negotiators at extreme heights.
In 1993 the Department of Defence handed over bomb disposal responsibilities to the NSW Police Force. The Bomb Disposal section was established within Forensic Services. In 1997, the section was relocated to the SPG.
With the approach of the Olympics Games, this section was identified for expansion and development. To allow for this development, the Bomb Disposal Section has been amalgamated with the Rescue Unit which has the necessary infrastructure and facilities to support this section.
Region State Protection Support Units
To contain emergency situations (such as sieges, hostage situations and suicide intervention), 300 part time, volunteer State Protection Support Unit (SPSU) officers are on call across the State under region command. Metropolitan Sydney has a part-time SPSU group.
The SPG in conjunction with the police academy is responsible for the initial training of these volunteers, followed up by monthly training which is organised locally. The SPSU officers also attend an annual training camp organised by the School of Operational Safety and Tactics Unit to maintain a consistency in their training levels.