From The Age: VICTORIA Police is set to more than double its squad of anti-riot officers in a move that new Chief Commissioner Ken Lay says is partly a response to television images of rioting mobs in England last year.
Membership of the police riot squad will grow from 50 to 110 after Mr Lay recently signed off on the move.
He told The Age that in the past, when riot squad members had been pulled out of regions to confront trouble, some areas had been left under-policed. He said the boost in squad numbers would stop this occurring.
Mr Lay, who flagged a return to traditional policing when appointed last November, said training for new anti-riot police would take place over the next three or four months.
Squad members will perform regular front-line duties when not assigned to large gatherings that spill out of control.
Mr Lay denied the move was a response to the Occupy Melbourne demonstrations in October – when police clashed fiercely with protesters – but said that was an instructive experience for the police force.
While street violence was a problem for police, he said this was not a driving factor in increasing the size of the squad.
”Often we see parties that get out of control, kids’ parties [where] we end up with five and six and 700 kids that we need to be able to get there quickly and have a very aggressive approach to stop it quickly and protect our members.”
Police Association secretary Greg Davies said police faced more large, spontaneous and aggressive situations than in the past, with people far more likely to attack police now.