By Nick Sinis

ALMOST 500 Victoria Police officers have undertaken an operation to detect anyone in breach of Melbourne’s extended lockdown, including those trying to visit regional areas.
Speaking at a media conference today (Friday, June 4) Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent said 200 police, supported by an additional 250 officers, would patrol the main arterial roads out of Melbourne.
“They (police) will be using automatic number-plate recognition systems to assist them with identifying vehicles from Melbourne in regional and rural areas,” Dpt Comm Nugent said.
“We’ll also have a heavy presence around all those back roads around the arterial (roads) heading out of Melbourne.
“They (police) will be providing a highly visible and proactive response, checking vehicles to ensure they’re compliant with the Chief Health Officer’s (CHO) directions.”
Dpt Comm Nugent said the proactive operation had been chosen instead of the ‘ring of steel’, which used significant resources requiring over 400 police per day.
“Victoria Police, in support of the health emergency, provided a document outlining four options that could be employed by the government,” he said.
“One of them was the ring of steel and there was a range of options leading up to the ring of steel.
“That document also provided resourcing numbers required for each option, and limitations and benefits to each option.
“Ultimately, the CHO, public health team and government has determined this is the model that is preferred.”
Dpt Comm noted another limitation of the ring of steel was major traffic delays associated with checkpoints, which had impacted those who had a genuine reason to travel.
The media queried if holiday homes in areas such as Phillip Island, Surf Coast and the Peninsula would be checked for people trying to leave Melbourne.
“We’re actively checking people in those locations and vehicles, but not specifically homes unless there’s some particular matter that’s being investigated,” he said.
“Or unless we’ve got some intelligence to suggest there’s someone there that has breached CHO (directions) or some other community risk.”