Australia

Melbourne boosts security ahead of Australian Open

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Security takes centre stage as hundreds of thousands of tennis fans from across the world flock to the city for the Australian Open.

For the next two weeks, Protective Service Officers, known as PSO's, will patrol Melbourne trams, to ensure the Australian Open runs as smoothly as the iconic mode of transport.

Trams are expected to be widely used by tennis fans as they make their way to and from the tournament at Melbourne Park. 

Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville said the PSOs will assist in proactively targeting crime and antisocial behaviour to ensure the public's safety.

Protective Service Officers will be on patrol day and night, says Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville.
Protective Service Officers will be on patrol day and night, says Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville.
AAP

"They'll be there day and night from 7am to midnight, each day. This is about making sure we've got PSO's giving reassurance, able to disrupt any crime, stop anti-social behaviour."

It's part of a wider security crackdown in Melbourne over the Australian Open, which runs from January 14th to the 27th. 

During that period, police will be out in force on the streets, at public transport hubs and at key CBD landmarks.

The 2017 Bourke Street attack, where a lone man drove into pedestrians, killing six people took place as the Australian Open was underway.

Assistant Commissioner Deb Abbott said the expected influx of people has led to extensive security preparation and planning.

"We do know that at this time we have additional people, additional crowds, more mass gatherings. We do have to respond and police the environment that's around an event," she said. 

A terror attack took place in the city just two months ago, and the Victorian government says public safety is a top priority.

A $50 million plan to boost security in the Melbourne CBD is currently underway.

Stage one, which was completed last month, included the installation of more than 30 permanent bollards at Flinders Street station.

While six other key sites are set to be upgraded to permanent protections by the end of this year.

Police say there have been no specific threats ahead of the tournament but they are prepared for any eventuality.

Protective Services Officers (PSOs) will be on trams for the first time.
Protective Services Officers (PSOs) will be on trams for the first time.
SBS

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