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Bus vandalism blitz may be short-lived

THE WA Government’s much heralded blitz on bus vandals could run for just four to six weeks.

The blitz, using controversial private security firm Secureforce International, could cost $600,000 a year to run if it is continued.

Each two-man mobile patrol costs $100,000 a year and up to six patrols can be on the road on any given day.

The trial is being co-funded by the Government and Perth’s public transport bus operators Path Transit and Southern Coast Transit.

A spokesman for Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the Government would reassess the patrols at the end of the initial trial period.

“After the period we will make some long-term decisions. We’re trying to develop good benchmarks for good security,” he said.

“It’s not about the number of patrols that are running; it’s about the response to need.”

Secureforce had been running similar patrols until the Government stopped them in December.

However, those patrols had been a trial added to the contract Secureforce had with the Government to provide static guard patrols at bus stations.

At the time, [then] Public Transport Minister Michelle Roberts said the decision to cease the patrols had been an administrative one made by Transperth.

The public transport portfolio was transferred to Ms MacTiernan on July 1.

Secureforce, headed by John Ryan, ran foul of the Transport Workers Union for underpaying its workers.

TWU spokesman Paul Aslan said the union had taken Mr Ryan to the Industrial Court for unfair dismissal of some of his workers.

Guards working for Mr Ryan alleged he closed Secureforce International last year and opened another company, Metro Security Services, after it went to the TWU.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission records show Metro Security Services was registered in February 2000. The ASIC also has no records of Secureforce International ever being closed.

The Secureforce International guards also told the Government they were given insufficient time to leave their guns in a secure place after finishing jobs that required firearms in order to patrol bus terminals, where guns were not allowed. They often left their weapons in their cars.

Mr Aslan said the TWU had been unable to successfully prosecute Mr Ryan because the court ruled there had been no transmission of business.

However, despite the past between the two organisations, he said the reinstatement of mobile patrols was good.

“John Ryan is good at what he does,” Mr Aslan said.

Mr Ryan said his problem with the TWU had been caused by six employees who had refused to show him their police clearances.

“When they were approached by the police to make official statements they dropped their allegations and the union later dropped the charges,” he said.

Mr Ryan said he believed the mobile patrols would continue beyond the six-week trial.

“It just depends on the form they will take,” he said.

Secureforce also has the facilities management and control contract for the bus lanes on the Kwinana Freeway.

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