Thursday, February 19, 2009

Crime Scene or Disaster Zone - a reflection

I have posted a number of times regarding the difficulty residents have had getting in and out of fire affected areas, even residents who have never effectively "left" their communities have experienced difficulties at roadblocks. There have also been problems whereby Vicroads publishes that a road is open to residents yet the police on the ground are not letting residents, with ID, through.

In my interactions with a number of different police officers most, but not all, refer to the fire affected areas as a "crime scene". If you think of a crime scene the objectives are to get people out, seal it off and carry out a detailed investigation. Applying a crime scene perspective at a roadblock results in "it doesn't matter who you are or what you are doing, you can't come in". As the fire affected area is spread over hundreds of thousands of hectares and many residents never left the area other than to access relief and return, a crime scene approach was always going to create point of conflict.

In a disaster zone the objectives are to make it safe, get the help and relief we need and remove any barriers or hindrances. Many residents in fire affected areas got very frustrated when they came up against the "crime scene" perspective when trying to get to relief centres and then return to their communities.

It does seem that the responsibility for roadblocks is now with Vicroads, which would indicate that the police have largely finished their work of victim location and identification as well as the investigative side of their work (those victim ID police have such a terrible job but do it very well). Hopefully there will be less conflict and stress and we can focus on the disaster zone perspective.

1 comment:

  1. Why were they designated as crime zones and not a disaster zone?


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