New South Wales police department said on Wednesday (26 April) that it has set up a special unit to crack down on terrorist attack plotters, especially lone wolf attackers, amid growing terror threats across the world.
"The 'Fixated Persons Investigations Unit' will focus on the detection, intervention and prevention of so-called 'lone actor' and 'fixated person' threats across the state," the department said in a news release.
Police commissioner Mick Fuller said that the unit, which is set to begin operations from 1 May, will have 17 detectives and additional support personnel. The new unit will also comprise mental health experts.
The unit will be tasked with investigating individuals "not considered persons of interest" by the Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics (CTST) Command, the department noted. It added that the specialised unit will also identify other vulnerable people who may be inclined to carry out lone wolf attacks or engage in other violent activities upon radicalisation.
The unit will be authorised to either arrest the suspects and charge them with criminal offences or send them to mental asylums for assistance.
"This unit is a unique step forward in modern policing," Fuller said. "In recent times we've dealt with a number of people who aren't classified as terrorists but are so obsessed about issues, ideals or individuals, they are plotting acts of violence.
"The Fixated Persons Investigations Unit will identify and disrupt those threats."
The commissioner added that he also wants the new unit to be a resource for parents fearing radicalisation of their children.
"People so driven by religious, political, ideological or mental health issues that they threaten others is an emerging crime issue for law enforcement across the globe," he noted.
"The creation of this unit forms part of the re-engineering process for the NSW Police Force moving forward.
"The views of a young person, under the wrong influence, could change in a matter of days or weeks. We want parents to be able to contact the Fixated Persons Investigations Unit and get some help."
Minister for Counter Terrorism, David Elliott, welcomed the move, saying: "The Fixated Persons Investigation Unit will not only complement the existing work of the force to combat terrorism, but the efforts of the NSW Government to ensure a coordinated and strategic approach to identifying possible terror threats."