As the investigation continues into this week’s bomb attacks in Boston, finding the balance between safety and the right to assemble in large numbers is a timely issue.

Griffith University security expert Professor Simon Bronitt said that over the past 50 years the way modern policing balanced human rights and security in relation to mass gatherings had changed significantly.

“Today there is a greater tolerance of rights to free assembly and expression,” said Professor Bronitt, Director of the Griffith University-based Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security.

“In Queensland the right of peaceful assembly is a longstanding legislatively protected human right.”

Professor Bronitt was speaking at the 2013 CEPS Human Rights and Policing Conference in Canberra. The conference ends tomorrow (April 18).

Another conference speaker, Professor Geoff Alpert from the University of South Carolina, said it was important to maintain the balance between making an event accessible for the public while upholding security levels.

The CEPS ambassador to the United States said a lot of work went into co-ordinating security for large events and this included significant input from multiple agencies within the public sector, private industry and emergency services.

“There are large lead times on events and planning, co-ordination and anticipation are taken into account well before an event,” Professor Alpert said.