Graham Coleman is presently the Acting Assistant Commissioner, Program Executive of the Queensland Police Service G20 Group. He will be speaking at the National Transport Security Summit in Melbourne, 4-5 March.
We sat down with Graham in the lead up to the event to talk about the particular security challenges such a large-scale operation required:
Graham, can you tell us a little about your professional pathway and what prepared you to take on the massive task of overseeing security for the G20 summit?
Prior to joining the G20 Group. I had held operational management positions for 20 of my 30 years’ service. I had been officer in charge of police divisions in remote, rural and regional centres in Northern and Central Queensland followed by District Officer roles in districts in Western and Central Queensland. In these roles, I was responsible for the management of all facets of policing and the policing service delivered to the community. I was able to bring to the G20 Group a broad range of experience in providing operational policing services in a range of situations as well as experience in working with a wide range of stakeholders in the community. The G20 experience was similar in nature to the work I had done before – it required a broad knowledge of the services which we would provide to the event as well as the ability to work with key partner agencies to deliver the security required. The G20 Group was not only about providing security to an event which hosted 26 world leaders, it was also about ensuring the safety and security of all Queenslanders and visitors to our cities.
The Brisbane G20 was one of the largest security operations in Australia’s history. How much lead time is required when planning security on a large scale event such as the G20?
The G20 Group was established in October 2012 – a little over two years out from the Leaders’ Summit. At that time, there were the five executive members of the group. We grew the group to in excess of 120 staff in the lead up to the events we were policing. The outcome of our policing response shows that two years was enough time to prepare however there was a lot of hard work in that time to be fully prepared. My advice relating to planning for a large scale event of this nature is that the more time you have the better you can prepare.
By its nature, the operation required co-operation from the community. How important is an effective communication strategy in security? What communication channels tend to have the most impact?
The two key factors for the success of planning our security operation was the relationships we built and our communication strategy. The importance of an effective communication strategy cannot be underestimated. Our security operation was going to have a direct impact on thousands of people; those that lived in the vicinity, those that worked in the vicinity and those that travelled through the vicinity. At the outset, we established an engagement team with the view to contacting as many of those people who we would impact. We used a wide range of communication channels from social and mainstream media, to pamphlets to personal communication. It was the personal communication which had the most impact. Our engagement team visited businesses and residents which were going to be directly affected and discussed the affect our planning would have on them. Our engagement team were not only able to provide information regarding our impacts but were also able to answer questions and provide a level of assurance regarding our activities.
View the agenda and book now for the National Transport Security Summit in Melbourne, 4-5 March at The Langham Hotel.