For safety's sake

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 August, 2006, 12:00am

Beijing has called on international expertise to prepare for all possible security contingencies.

Precautions to safeguard public safety will be 'high-level' in terms of 'the security awareness in the community, fostering a harmonious safe environment, creating a civilised image of security and deploying hi-tech safety measures', says Bocog's security department.

Of the 69 security experts and consultants hired, many are from countries which have hosted the Olympics. Specialists from China were already in place, while contracts were still being signed with their overseas colleagues, the department said.

'We will also exchange and co-operate with international judicial institutes and foreign intelligence agencies, and systemise meetings with security officials and police liaison officers from foreign countries' embassies in China,' the department said.

The security authority has examined all of the training and sporting venues and made more than 600 proposals to improve public safety. The department also called for security systems to be installed during the construction and upgrading of the venues, making sure the systems are 'simultaneously planned, designed, constructed, checked, and put into service at the same time'.

But the organising committee also recognised that plans on paper were no guarantee of a quick and efficient response to emergencies - practice and financial support were also needed.

The Beijing government has pledged 500 million yuan to upgrade equipment for special police officers charged with ensuring public safety. The money will be spent on equipment to gather evidence and more than 2,000 sets of protective gear and weapons. In addition, 86 new vehicles, including anti-riot troop carriers, are also on the shopping list, according to Xinhua's Oriental Outlook magazine.

This year 210 million yuan has been allocated to expanding the office and training camp of the city's special security taskforce, and 70 million yuan has been used to buy highly advanced weaponry. The taskforce will be responsible for counter-terrorism and anti-riot activities. It has drafted emergency plans for responding to a large-scale terrorist attack and a large-scale hostage incident.

Meanwhile, the department has finished drafting training plans to 'improve the professional knowledge, skills and response capacity ... of the Olympic family'.

The plans consist of 42 training projects, 31 dealing directly with security issues including emergency rescues, evacuations and security checks at stadiums and also Olympic accommodation. The rest of the projects aim to give security personnel a basic understanding of the games, etiquette, and different religions.

From now until May 2008, Beijing will host 42 international sports events, giving the city plenty of time to test its preparations.