New unit would have targeted Monis: police

Andrew Leeson

"Obsessed" people at risk of becoming lone wolf terrorists will be targeted by a new NSW police unit before they can commit acts of violence or terrorism, potentially preventing incidents like the Lindt Cafe siege.

The "fixated persons investigations unit" will target people who could otherwise be overlooked in the gap between existing counter-terrorism efforts and regular criminal investigations, Commissioner Mick Fuller told reporters on Wednesday.

"This is a new phenomenon," Mr Fuller said in Sydney.

"There are people out there who are prepared to do terrorist-type activities who won't profile as ... classically what we saw as terrorists."

The unit will work to find people vulnerable to "rapid radicalisation" and others who could cause harm whether they're motivated by politics, religion or mental health issues.

Mr Fuller vowed in late March - when it was announced he was replacing Andrew Scipione as commissioner - that he'd track down extremists who could commit lone wolf attacks.

Working with government agencies the fixated persons unit will gather information, such as mental health records on potential targets and attempt to intervene early.

Lindt Cafe gunman Man Haron Monis would "certainly" have been a target for the new unit if it had existed before the 2014 hostage crisis, he said.

"If the person like that doesn't fit as an active CT (counter terror) target they would certainly fit as a target for the fixated persons unit," the police commissioner said on Wednesday.

Mr Fuller denied the unit's establishment was a bid to head off any critical findings in the NSW coroner's report into the police response to the Lindt Cafe siege in which two hostages and Monis were killed after a 17-hour stand-off.

"It is about adding another layer of protection for the community and, in many cases, protecting the individuals from themselves," he said.

Once an individual was flagged, officers would monitor them, often without their knowledge.

Monitoring could include police looking at social media or talking to neighbours, Mr Fuller said.

"I am not suggesting that if you call we're going to kick your door down, we will risk assess it and there might be just a mental health response," he added.

The unit comprises of 17 detectives with a background in profiling criminals as well as support staff.