Police confirm ID checks in city centre

ANYONE considered to be acting suspiciously in APEC security areas in the city centre will be asked for identification to justify their presence, NSW Police have confirmed.

Production of a driver's licence, work pass or business card would be mandatory on police request, the commander of the NSW Police APEC security command, Chief Superintendent Peter Lennon, told the Herald yesterday. But anyone was still entitled to visit the area simply to "check it out".

This comes as the Prime Minister, John Howard, said almost all of Sydney will be open to the public during the leaders' week of the APEC summit.

But the Opera House and Government House and their surrounds, where the main leaders' meetings are scheduled, would be "totally locked down", with access allowed only to accredited individuals, he said.

Residents or workers could access these areas but may face restrictions on car use.

The height of security activity and disruption will be from Friday, September 7, to Sunday, September 9, when the 21 world leaders converge on Sydney.

The declared security area, where police will have enhanced powers to stop, question and search, is that bounded by George, King and Macquarie streets.

Public transport is encouraged to reach the city centre, although Circular Quay, Museum and St James stations will be closed. North Shore and eastern suburbs trains will continue to operate.

Mr Howard said the Harbour Bridge, Cahill Expressway, Harbour Tunnel, Western Distributor and Eastern Distributor would remain open. But APEC organisers warned of frequent delays on the Eastern Distributor as motorcades travelled to and from the airport.

Mr Lennon said police were thinking along the lines of asking people coming into the declared area to show their work card, business card "or something like that". This was "because we are trying to gauge and monitor the amount of people that are going to come down there.

"We're asking people to have some identification with them to verify their reason for accessing into declared area."

People on their way to work would be unaffected by security arrangements. "If it's just normal looking people on their way to work … that's no problem. Even if they want to go there and check it out that's no problem. But it's when we start to get into large numbers … then we're going to have to start looking and say: 'We're too clustered [in] this declared area."'

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