Police in more places as Mobile Policing Units hit road

Victoria Police now has an even greater presence in the community, courtesy of the deployment of two unique vehicles across Western Victoria and eastern Melbourne from this week.

The two new Mobile Policing Units (MPUs) based out of Geelong and Knox will be integral in helping police tackle crime hotspots, manage critical incidents, and lead large scale search and rescue efforts and responses to natural disasters.

From the exterior, a MPU looks like a large, heavily branded Victoria Police mini-van, while inside the unit is fitted out with the necessary infrastructure to provide officers with the same level of access to critical information as they would have at a station.

Police will use these units, which include an external electronic message board, to target crime hotspots – deploying them to areas of concern to serve as a strong visual deterrent for would-be offenders.

The roaming police units may also be deployed to neighbourhoods or public locations where serious crimes have occurred, reassuring the community that a heavy police presence is in the area to prevent further offending from occurring.

The MPUs will be an integral part of the police response to critical incidents such as sieges and natural disasters including bushfires. The units will serve as central police coordination points for these incidents, allowing the Police Forward Commander responsible for making strategic decisions affecting members on the frontline to be based in the field, rather than managing the police response from a station or office removed from the action.

Police will also utilise the MPUs as coordination points for large scale search and rescue operations in remote areas that are often difficult to access by road for ill equipped vehicles, while each vehicle can also be used as an additional vehicle on Victoria’s roads that has the ability to process offenders for drink and drug driving.

Lastly, Victoria Police will base MPUs at major events such as large sporting events, music festivals, and local community events – serving as a central hub at the event for police to engage with the community and also monitor any anti-social or criminal behaviour.

The two new MPUs being deployed to Geelong and Knox are part of 11 currently in the process of being delivered to Victoria Police.

Two MPUs have been based in Melbourne/Yarra and Port Phillip/Stonnington since August and September last year. Mildura and Frankston will receive another unit in the second half of the year, as well as two locations in Melbourne’s north-west and one location in eastern Victoria. In addition to this, two slightly larger MPUs will be delivered in mid-2023 and deployed across Victoria as operationally required.

Since receiving the first MPUs last year, police across metropolitan Melbourne have deployed the new units to address anti-social and criminal behaviour along Acland, Fitzroy, and Carlisle streets in St Kilda, respond to major incidents including a number of serious fires and a downed hot balloon in Elwood, support Victoria Police’s Summersafe operation along Melbourne’s most popular beaches and manage the police response at major events such as the Melbourne Cup and F1 Grand Prix.

Quotes attributable to Geelong and Surf Coast Superintendent Peter Ward

“Our Mobile Policing Unit will be deployed as a crime fighting and community reassurance tool in a number of locations across Greater Geelong.

“These locations will be determined based on police intelligence and feedback received from the community, ensuring people not just are safe, but also feel safe.

“The MPU will also be a pivotal part of the police response to a number of major events across Western Victoria over the back half of this year, including Schoolies, Falls Festival, Meredith Music Festival, and managing the influx of tourists along the Surf Coast over summer.

“We have received feedback from our police colleagues in Melbourne that these units have proven invaluable in targeting high risk community locations where offending has occurred. They have seen offending decrease when the unit is deployed to problem areas, as it sends a very strong message to offenders that police are in the area and watching anyone thinking about breaking the law.

“These vehicles are the definition of a ‘jack of all trades’ and will prove a critical modern policing tool to assist our officers in tackling crime, interacting with the public, and keeping the community safe.

“In any given week, these units may appear at a crime hot spot to deter offending, be deployed to a critical incident such as a siege, serve as a co-ordination point for large-scale search and rescue operations in remote areas, or be based at a major sporting event or music festival.

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