Victoria Police wanted private security guards used in coronavirus hotel quarantine program, witness tells inquiry

www.abc.net.au
6 min read
fairly difficult
A senior government bureaucrat tells an inquiry into Victoria's botched hotel quarantine program she believed it was "not adequate" that Victoria Police played a bit part role in security operations.
Victoria Police wanted private security guards to oversee guests in the state's hotel quarantine program, with the ultimate decision to use contractors made at an urgent meeting chaired by Victoria's Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp, a government bureaucrat says.

Key points: A senior public servant says her department organised private security contracts for hotel quarantine

A senior public servant says her department organised private security contracts for hotel quarantine Guards have been blamed for poor hygiene practices and spreading the virus

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Claire Febey, a director at Victoria's Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR), told the inquiry into the botched program that Mr Crisp tasked her department with the role of organising contracts for guards.

Ms Febey shed light on a critical meeting at the State Control Centre on March 27, before returned travellers were detained in hotels from March 29.

"It was Victoria Police's preference … that private security be the first line of security?" counsel assisting the inquiry Rachel Ellyard asked Ms Febey.

"That's right," she replied.

"I understood [Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner] Mick Grainger had given that directive, in conversation with Andrew Crisp."

According to a transcript of an audio recording of the meeting, Mr Grainger said it was "absolutely" Victoria Police's preference that private security be the front line with guests.

"It was my view that Victoria Police should be present onsite at hotels 24/7, and that perimeter or proximate patrol was not adequate," Ms Febey said.

"I considered that the work of security should be under the direction of authorised officers, with Victoria Police there to oversee and manage escalation."

Representatives from Victoria Police are due to give evidence at the…
Kristian Silva
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