State Protection Group

State Protection Group

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= State Protection group

caption=Subdued NSW Police Force Patch worn by some SPG units.
branch= Counter Terrorism & Special Tactics Command
dates= 1991 - Present
specialization= Domestic Counter-Terrorism and Law Enforcement
command_structure= New South Wales Police Force
current_commander= Chief Superintendent Wayne Benson
garrison= Sydney Police Centre
nickname= SPG
motto= 'Stamus Una' - We stand as one
battles= 1993 Cangai siege, Ivan Milat arrest, 2000 Sydney Olympics, 2007 APEC summit, World Youth Day 2008
notable_commanders= Assistant Commissioner Norm Hazzard

The State Protection Group (SPG) is part of the Specialist Operations (New South Wales) of the New South Wales Police Force. The State Protection Group was established in 1991 to deal with a wide range of extraordinary policing responses to situations, which are beyond the scope, or capacity, of police generally. The SPG directly support operational police in 'High Risk' incidents such as sieges with a specialist tactical, negotiation, intelligence and command support service. The command also provides support with rescue and bomb disposal operations, operations requiring the services of the Dog Unit. The Command is also involved in the witness security and the provision of general security for police and other government institutions. The SPG is also responsible for the delivery and maintenance of the Police Service firearms capability through the Police Armoury.

Coming under the Counter Terrorism & Special Tactics Command [ [ Counter Terrorism and Public Order Management] ] , which is headed by Assistant Commissioner Peter DEIN (Counter Terrorism) the State Protection Group (SPG) is currently headed by Chief Superintendent Wayne Benson.


The State Protection Group is an amalgamation of five, specialist units trained to State and Nationally accredited Counter Terrorism levels.

Established in June 1991, the State Protection Group rationalised the resources of the Special Weapons and Operations Section (SWOS), the Witness Security Unit, Regional Tactical Response Groups and the Rescue Squad.

The SPG directly support operational police in 'High Risk' incidents such as sieges with a specialist tactical, negotiation, intelligence and command support service. The command also provides support with rescue and bomb disposal operations, operations requiring the services of the Dog Unit. The Command is also involved in the witness security and the provision of general security for police and other government institutions. The SPG is also responsible for the delivery and maintenance of the Police Service firearms capability through the Police Armoury.


To provide extraordinary services to operational police in rescue, bomb disposal, security, high risk resolution, negotiation, witness security, specialised dog unit and Armoury services.

Principle roles

* Protecting endangered witnesses;
* Resolving siege and hostage situations, as well as armed offender situations;
* Providing a negotiation service in high risk and critical situations;
* Undertaking searches of premises in high risk situations;
* The arrest of armed and dangerous offenders;
* Escorting and securing dangerous prisoners in high risk situations;
* Providing support services for major operations;
* Rescue and bomb disposal operations;
* Counter-terrorism and hijacking operations;
* The escort and security of VIPs, internationally protected persons, Heads of State;
* Building security through the Security Management Branch; and
* Providing specialist engineering services and supply of ammunition and firearms for the NSW Police Force through the Armoury.


The State Protection Group consists of the following sections:

Tactical Operations Unit (TOU)

Since 1978, the Australian Government's National Anti-Terrorism Plan has required each state police force to maintain a specialist counter-terrorist and hostage-rescue unit (Police Tactical Group).

The NSW Tactical Operations Unit, formed in 1991, aims to resolve high-risk incidents by containment and negotiation, with minimal or judicious use of force to be applied only as a last resort and based on full and careful assessment. Unlike the former SWOS (1979-1991) and Tactical Response Group (1981-91), the TOU is a full-time assignment and is not assigned to riot control or crowd control situations, which are handled by the Public Order and Riot Squad (PORS). The unit is available to provide extraordinary assistance to operational police in high-risk incidents.

The TOU is equipped with 'less-lethal' devices as well as specialist firearms and equipment for 'domestic' and counter-terrorist operations.

Region State Protection Support Units (SPSU)

To contain emergency situations in country/regional locations (such as sieges, hostage situations and suicide intervention), 300 part time, volunteer State Protection Support Unit (SPSU) officers are on call across the State under regional command. Although the SPG TOU is a full-time unit that covers the entire State of NSW, part time SPSU operators are frequently called out to deal with situations before the TOU arrives, or in lieu of the TOU.

SPSU tactical officers are also used for 'high risk' operations such as arrests of armed offenders and forced entry raids etc as the Region and SPG Commander/s deem necessary.

The SPG in conjunction with the NSW Police Academy is responsible for the initial selection and training of these volunteers, followed up by monthly training which is organised locally. The SPSU officers also attend an annual training camp organised by the School of Operational Safety and Tactics Unit to maintain a consistency in their training levels. The majority of SPSU team leaders are former TOU officers [] .

As SPSU are part-time unit and are not responsible for counter terrorist operations (responsibility lies with the TOU) they are not trained or equipped to the same level as the TOU. SPSU teams are equipped with a range of specialist tactical gear including less than lethal munitions such as Tasers, beanbags as well as various shotguns and M4/M16 semi automatic rifles.

Witness Security Unit

The WSU was established to implement the witness protection program, which protects and secures the safety of witnesses giving evidence on behalf of the Crown. Functions include escorts, providing safe accommodation and other security measures as required.

Negotiation Unit

Highly trained negotiators are on call across the state who respond to their substantive commanders on a part time, as needed basis. When a situation arises requiring negotiation, these officers are called immediately and operate under the supervision of the Negotiation Unit which has a small full-time cadre.

Intelligence Unit

The main function of this unit is to provide specific intelligence information to the negotiators or Tactical Operations Unit officers involved in the resolution of high risk incidents. This intelligence might include information on the people involved (offenders, hostages or suspects), or the premises (eg. photographs and plans) [] .

ecurity Management Branch

The Security Management Branch provides high quality protective security to selected police and government buildings. Members are sworn in as special constables.As members of the police but performing limited functions, the officers are armed with Glock pistols and standard NSW Police equipment and have powers of arrest. Special Constables provide armed uniformed security at places such as the Sydney Police Centre, Parramatta Police Headquarters & Goulburn Police College (Academy) to name but a few.

Police Rescue & Bomb Disposal Unit

Originally created in 1942 as the Police Cliff Rescue Squad for the express purpose of recovering the bodies of suicide victims, or rescuing persons trapped on cliffs, the Police Rescue & Bomb Disposal Unit has undergone numerous changes and expansions over the years [] .

Apart from responding to 000 (emergency calls) calls, the Police Rescue Unit provides a specialist search and rescue response in direct support of operational police in situations of any risk category. This support extends from searches for evidence, to working with negotiators at extreme heights [] .

Police Rescue operators are trained to use equipment such as Jaws of Life, metal detectors, trapped person locaters, sophisticated communication equipment and cutting tools etc. These officers are experts in abseiling, climbing, single rope techniques and stretcher escorts with cliff machines.

Some of the Rescue Unit's responsibilities and challenges include:

* Rescuing people trapped in difficult high or deep places such as mines, storm-water drains, cliffs, scaffolding and remote places.
* Rescuing people involved in industrial, traffic, railway and aircraft accidents or who may have become trapped in household equipment, machinery or playground equipment.
* Providing power or lighting in emergencies or for police operations
* Rescuing livestock and animals in accidents
* Working in toxic or hazardous environments

In 1993 the Department of Defence handed over bomb disposal responsibilities to the NSW Police Force. The Bomb Disposal section was established within Forensic Services and then in 1997, the section was relocated to the SPG [] .

With the approach of the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, the Bomb Disposal section was identified for expansion and development. To allow for this development, the Bomb Disposal Section was amalgamated with the Rescue Unit which had the necessary infrastructure and facilities to support this section.

The full time section, and Headquarters of the Police Rescue & Bomb Disposal Unit is based in Zetland (Sydney) while part-time units are based around the State in Wollongong, Cooma, Goulburn, the Blue Mountains, Bathurst, Newcastle and Lismore. The decentralised part-time units across the State are responsible for general land Rescue & Bomb appraisal operations within their respective local area commands, but are also available to assist other commands upon request.

The Police Rescue & Bomb Disposal Unit was the subject of an Australian television series which aired on ABC between 1991 and 1996 as well as a feature film in 1994 named Police Rescue.

Armoury Section

The Armoury Section provides specialist engineering services, maintenance and supply of ammunition and firearms for the NSW Police Force across the State.

Dog Unit

More commonly referred to as the Dog Squad, the Police Dog Unit was initially created in NSW between 1935 to 1953 and was reintroduced in 1979 [] .

The unit was established to support police in locating offenders and missing persons, detecting and detaining fleeing criminals and detecting drugs, firearms and explosives [] .Dogs used for patrol duties are German Shepherds or Rottweilers. The Labrador retriever is the breed of choice for specialist detection for narcotics and explosives, etc.

The Unit has a variety of specialised dog for roles such as drug explosive detection, general purpose (search), cadaver dogs and specialised tactical dogs for work with the TOU/SPSU [] .

Dog Squad officers may be called upon to chase and apprehend offenders who may be escaping arrest and may be armed and dangerous or act as a deterrent and back up in dangerous situations such as brawls, sieges, riots and domestics. They are also used to provide high profile foot patrols in places such as schools, industrial areas, shopping complexes and during large public events such as New Years Eve or sporting events, etc.

NSW Police Force dogs are also issued their own sets of canine body armour/ballistic vests [] .

ee also

Other NSW Police

* Special Weapons and Operations Squad (former NSW Police unit)
* Tactical Response Group (former NSW Police unit)

imilar Australian units

* Australian Defence Force - Tactical Assault Group
* Corrective Services - Hostage Response Group

International units

* SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics)
* List of Special Response Units

Related articles

* National Anti Terrorism Exercise
* Counter-terrorism


External links

* [ New South Wales Police official website]

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