2 Dec 2003

Australian police officers could be in PNG before the end of the year

3:29 pm on 2 December 2003

Police in Papua New Guinea say the first group of Australian officers could be in the country before the end of the year if an agreement between the two countries is signed next week.

The Chief superintendent, Andrew Sterns, says in excess of 300 Australian police officers are expected in a two phase operation over five years.

He says initially 21 officers would be posted to Bougainville and others would be sent to Port Moresby prior to Mount Hagen and Lae being targetted.

Mr Sterns says the Australian police would be taking line positions.

"It'll be mainly operational areas and they'll be hands on policemen as opposed to the Ausaid concept that we have go assistance from Australia. These will be sworn policemen, with police powers, operatin with their PNG counterparts."

The chief superintendent says Australia will also be providing vehicles and equipment, such as radios, batons and handcuffs.

The agreement is expected to be formalised in Adelaide next week once the Australian cabinet signs off on it.

The operation will be double the size of Australia's intervention in Solomon Islands.