Protests spreading police resources thin at $1m cost

Capital city rallies over the conflict in Gaza are stretching police resources.

Capital city rallies over the conflict in Gaza are stretching police resources. Photo: TND

Police resources are being spread thin as hundreds of officers man protests relating to the conflict in Gaza at a cost of more than $1 million for each event.

NSW Premier Chris Minns revealed over the weekend the bill for policing a major protest was “in excess of $1 million”, saying protecting public safety at ongoing pro-Palestine and -Israel rallies was “costing a lot”.

Supporters have held regular rallies in Australia’s major cities drawing crowds of thousands for the past five weeks since Hamas attacked Israel, killing more than 1000 people and taking hundreds hostage.

Israel has responded with retaliatory strikes and a ground invasion, which Palestinian officials say have killed more than 10,000 Gaza residents.

Up to 100,000 demonstrators gathered across Sydney and Melbourne to call for an end to the war on Sunday.

Thousands gathered for a vigil in Sydney to show solidarity for Israel and to demand the release of hostages.

Police Association of NSW president Kevin Morton said extra demand on officers because of the protests was putting strain on an under-resourced force.

“Our commands are stretched across the board and when you factor in protests that creates an additional layer on that resourcing strain,” he told ABC Radio on Monday.

Morton said requiring hundreds of officers to manage major protests risked leaving other shifts vacant and called on the federal government to provide extra funding.

“The continual drain on those resources to man these protests is really concerning for us,” he said.

The NSW Police force is about 1500 officers under strength because of recruitment shortfalls, which the government is trying to fix by paying trainee officers.

But Minns defended the need for a large police presence at protests, saying it was fundamental to ensuring safety and social cohesion.

“They’re not just to maintain safety of the community and assets and people but also to monitor for those fundamental principles that we have in NSW around racial vilification and hate speech,” he said.

Minns said the ability of demonstrators to put their points of view across was important and he noted discussions between major protest groups had been fruitful.


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