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Police To Hold 'Essential' Private Graduation Ceremony Despite Similar Bans For Universities

The NSW Police Force Academy will go ahead with a private ceremony for a group of up to 275 cadets today, arguing online the gathering is 'essential'.

The ceremony is scheduled to take place on the parade ground at the Goulburn academy on April 9, according to a post made on the school's Facebook account on March 30.

A spokesman for the academy told followers the ceremony, for Class 340's cadets, would be outdoors weather permitting, and would "use the whole parade ground to ensure we comply with social distancing requirements".

On Sunday March 29, Scott Morrison announced tighter social restrictions, ordering only two people could gather at once, whether indoors or outdoors.

The next day, NSW ruled police could issue fines of up to $11,000 or a six-month jail term to individuals flouting the rules, and fines of more than $50,000 to businesses.

Scores of university graduation ceremonies were cancelled last month as academic institutions raced to keep up with the changes.

But the NSW Police Academy argued theirs was 'essential' when questioned online about their decision to press ahead with what appeared to be a 'social gathering'.

"The key word you mention is Social, the job for Police Officers is Essential," a spokesman wrote in response.

"We are taking every precaution possible to protect our students and comply with the requirements set by Government."

An internal memo is believed to have circulated last month to say no members of the public or visiting police would be allowed entry, but the ceremony would go ahead, with no parade.

NSW Police confirmed this in a statement to Network 10, adding the attestation would be a "private ceremony as a result of COVID-19 restrictions".

"Social distancing and mass gathering directions will be applied and no members of the public or visiting police will be able to attend the attestation," a police spokesperson said.

"Members of class 340 will commence duties as probationary constables from Tuesday April 14, 2020.

"The class are naturally disappointed that there will be no audience or a parade for the attestation, but are keen to commence duties."

Earlier this month, 83 cadets graduated from Oxley Police Academy in Queensland in a 'private ceremony' that 'adhered to social distancing advice as much as possible', according to video of the event on the Queensland Police website.

Commissioner of the Queensland Police Katarina Carroll said the ceremony was fast-tracked.

“These decisions have not been taken lightly by the leadership of the Queensland Police Service, however they achieve two key objectives – they remove a significant number of people out of the Academy thus removing some of the risks,” Commissioner Carroll said.

“And it also provides much needed police officers for the front line at a critical time not only for the Police Service but for the people of Queensland.”

Contact that author: hmoore@networkten.com.au

Main image: Queensland Police.