A new specialist unit will be formed by the NSW Police to deal with obsessed individuals who threaten to carry out acts of violence.
The police force announced the Fixated Persons Investigation Unit would start operations on May 1, and focus on the detection, intervention and prevention of so-called ‘lone actor’ and ‘fixated person’ threats across the state.
NSW Police Minister Troy Grant welcomed the move, saying the unit would complement existing abilities within the Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Command to identify and disrupt criminal activity, whilst ensuring the community has an additional avenue for seeking assistance if they hold concerns for a particular individual.
“Fixated Persons investigators will work closely with intelligence officers, the Protection Operations Unit, and the Terrorism Investigations Squad to bring NSW into line with similar structures seen interstate and abroad.
“We know the types of crime our police officers face are complex and ever-changing, therefore it is important our force evolves to ensure it is best placed to respond, both proactively and reactively.”
Police commissioner Mick Fuller said the unit was a ‘unique step forward in modern policing’.
“In recent times we’ve dealt with a number of people who aren’t classified as terrorists but are so obsessed about issues, ideals or individuals, they are plotting acts of violence,” Commissioner Fuller said.
“The Fixated Persons Investigations Unit will identify and disrupt those threats.”
“It is about adding another layer of protection for the community and in many cases, protecting the individuals from themselves,” Commissioner Fuller said.
“People so driven by religious, political, ideological or mental health issues that they threaten others is an emerging crime issue for law enforcement across the globe,” he said, “The creation of this unit forms part of the re-engineering process for the NSW Police Force moving forward.”
The new unit will be staffed by 17 detectives, mental health experts and support staff.
Matters involving individuals who are not considered persons of interest by the Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics (CTST) Command will be assessed and referred to the new unit who will investigate and determine whether individuals making threats of grievance-fuelled violence should be arrested and charged with criminal offences or provided with mental health assistance.
The unit will also be responsible for proactively identifying people who may be vulnerable to rapid radicalisation or lone actor-style attacks and disrupting their ability to engage in violence.
The Commissioner said the unit will also be a resource for parents worried about their children being dangerously influenced.
The views of a young person, under the wrong influence, could change in a matter of days or weeks,” Commissioner Fuller said.
“We want parents to be able to contact the Fixated Persons Investigations Unit and get some help.”