WA Police will break with nearly a century of tradition by wearing guns at tomorrow’s Anzac Day services in response to heightened concerns about safety.
Police around the State were told yesterday that it was compulsory for them to wear their “full accoutrements” — including pistols, Tasers, batons and pepper sprays — while patrolling in uniform.
The order also applies to off-duty officers if they plan to march in their uniforms at Anzac Day parades.
The decision, described asunprecedented but necessary by the WA Police Union, comes after the arrest of two Melbourne teenagers on Saturday who were allegedly plotting to target police officers at Anzac Day ceremonies.
An official broadcast sent yesterday to police officers said: “Whilst there is no information to suggest any specific threat relating to WA, the recent events in Melbourne should put everyone on notice to exercise vigilance and raised awareness of suspicious activity.”
The broadcast instructed officers to stay close to each other when patrolling through crowds and to remain “tactically aware” at all times.
“The WA Police Union is very pleased and wholeheartedly supports the directive from WA Police that all on-duty officers who attend Anzac Day events will be armed at all times,” union president George Tilbury said.
“The decision will reassure the community that police will be able to immediately respond to any threat, should it arise.”
The security upgrade comes as Australian Defence Force personnel were urged to stand proud on Anzac Day, despite the increased terror threat. In an email sent to ADF members on Monday, Vice Chief of the military Ray Griggs said personnel should be alert to the security situation but should not be deterred from attending ceremonies.
“News that a number of individuals had allegedly planned to carry out terrorist attacks at Anzac Day commemorations on Australian soil should not deter us from attending these important events,” Vice-Admiral Griggs said. “That is not who we are as a nation or a defence force descended from the Anzacs.”
Vice-Admiral Griggs said the national terror alert remained high, so ADF members and their families should exercise “common sense and judgment” in planning their Anzac Day.
“Normal risk assessment and mitigation processes have been applied to establish appropriate security around commemorations,” he said.
Vice-Admiral Griggs said the military would work with police and other security agencies to monitor the security situation at Anzac events.
“This Anzac Day is an important occasion to reflect on our history and to honour more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in service to our nation over the past 100 years, those who returned and bore the physical and mental scars for years and remember those who still do,” he said.
“Courage in adversity — that is the Anzac.”