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20 years of joint cross border patrols in the Torres Strait

The latest joint cross border patrol has finished in Australia’s northern border region, with this year marking 20 years since the patrols began. Led by the Australian Border Force (ABF), the patrols are critical in supporting joint efforts to combat regional threats including illegal foreign fishing, people smuggling, and narcotics and firearms smuggling.

Fiona Pemberton, ABF Inspector on Thursday Island, said the patrols included officers from the ABF, Queensland Police (QPS), Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government.

“These important patrols allow officers from both countries to familiarise themselves with the villages, people and environment along the shared PNG and Australian border,” Inspector Pemberton said.

“The ABF is forever vigilant in its shared responsibility to protect the Australian community from various risks and to stamp out any illegal activity. The Torres Strait region is large and unique, and our message to the community is we are here, we are patrolling and we are responding.

“Our response to any illegal activity is both multi-agency and multi-country, as we benefit from a very close working relationship with our PNG counterparts,” Inspector Pemberton said.

The primary objective of the Joint Cross Border Patrol is to provide a platform for the ABF Torres Strait and partner law enforcement agencies to gather information that assists in fulfilling their responsibilities to manage the risk posed to both the Australian, and PNG border. The Joint Cross Border Patrol also demonstrates a united and visible presence by law enforcement officials from both countries.

During the patrol, officers visited Mabadauan, Daru, Sigabadaru and Jarai in PNG, and Saibai Island and Thursday Island in Australia.

Community information and awareness seminars were run in each location to promote the Border Watch programme. The programme assists the ABF to receive timely information from the general public on suspicious behaviour relating to border protection issues, including the movement of goods and people.

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