Australian and Papua New Guinea patrolling together to protect Torres Strait

Last week, the latest joint cross border patrol with Papua New Guinea has taken place in Australia’s northern border region of the Torres Strait. Led by the Australian Border Force (ABF), the patrols are critical in supporting joint efforts to combat regional threats including illegal foreign fishing, people smuggling, and narcotics and firearms smuggling.

Jason Ross, ABF Inspector on Thursday Island, said the patrol highlights the strong and ongoing partnership with Papua New Guinea to protect the Torres Strait.

“The relationships built with our PNG counterparts and in the communities we visit are critical, and information provided by the community has often led to significant operational outcomes,” Inspector Ross said.

During the patrol, officers visited Daru, Buji and Mari in PNG, and Saibai Island, Boigu Island, Masig Island, Darnley and Thursday Island in Australia.

“The Torres Strait community is one of our greatest assets in protecting the border, as was evidenced recently by their assistance in apprehending a fugitive attempting to flee on a jet ski. On this latest patrol, valuable intelligence was gathered that will further assist both countries in their border protection role.

The patrols have been operating successfully for 22 years and include officers from the ABF, Queensland Police (QPS), Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government.

“These important patrols allow officers from both countries to familiarise themselves with the remote villages, people and environment along the shared PNG and Australian border,” Inspector Ross said.

“The ABF is forever vigilant in its shared responsibility to protect the Australian community from various risks and to stamp out any illegal activity. The Torres Strait region is large and unique, and our message to the community is we are here, we are patrolling and we are responding.

“Our response to any illegal activity is both multi-agency and multi-country, as we benefit from a very close working relationship with our PNG counterparts,” Inspector Ross said.

Community information and awareness seminars were run in each location visited to promote the Border Watch programme. The programme assists the ABF to receive timely information from the general public on suspicious behaviour relating to border protection issues, including the movement of goods and people. This information is then used to inform future operational activity.

Anyone with information about possible illegal activity at the border is encouraged to report it to ABF’s Border Watch program by visiting www.Australia.gov.au/borderwatch. Information can be given anonymously.

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