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Australian ministry allows customs officers to carry firearms in airports

Australian ministry allows customs officers to carry firearms in airports

SYDNE:  Border force officers will be permitted to carry ‘personal defensive equipment’ by government while on duty, new immigration minister Peter Dutton announces.

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officers will be allowed to carry firearms and other defensive equipment which could include capsicum spray, batons and handcuffs in airports.

The new immigration minister, Peter Dutton, made the announcement on Tuesday as part of an update about the merger between customs and the immigration department into the new Australian border force.

“As part of the movement towards the ABF, our customs and border protection service officers will be permitted to carry personal defensive equipment, including firearms, while on duty at airports,” Dutton said.

“This measure will not only increase the capability of our future border force officers, it will also add another layer of deterrence at our borders, and will ensure that the travelling public is as safe as possible.”

Some customs officers have been authorised to carry firearms since 2010 as part of an order by the customs chief executive officer. The complement of equipment officers were authorised to carry includes a Glock 17 pistol, handcuffs, a baton and capsicum spray.

But rules set by the department of infrastructure – which manages screening procedures in airports – had previously prohibited customs officers from carrying firearms inside airports.

A separate announcement by Customs on Tuesday clarified that an exemption for screening procedures had been sought and granted by the infrastructure department.

“The ACBPS has therefore sought and obtained from the department of infrastructure an exemption for some officers from airport security screening,” the statement said. “These officers will also be permitted to carry personal defensive equipment, including firearms, while on duty at the airport. The exemption will come into effect this year, 2014.”

“All officers issued PDE have been certified in appropriate use-of-force training, which can be used only for defence from physical attack or to manage people who are physically non-compliant.”