Australia is served by police agencies in each State and the Northern Territory, with the Australian Federal Police also being responsible for policing the Australian Capital Territory. Among its responsibilities, the National Crime Authority also has a policing role.
The principal duties of the police are the prevention and detection of crime, the protection of life and property, and the enforcement of law to maintain peace and good order. They may perform a variety of additional duties in the service of the State. These duties include the prosecution of summary offences, regulation of street traffic, and acting as clerks of petty sessions, Crown land bailiffs, mining wardens and inspectors under the Fisheries Act and other relevant Acts.
With the exception of the Australian Federal Police and the National Crime Authority, police in Australia are under the control of the relevant State Government and the Northern Territory Government. However their members also perform certain functions on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, such as the registration of aliens, and they enforce various Commonwealth Acts and Regulations in conjunction with the Australian Federal Police and other Commonwealth officers.
Commonwealth policing agencies
Australian Federal Police (AFP)
The AFP is a Commonwealth statutory authority brought into existence by the Australian Federal Police Act 1979. The AFP has its headquarters in Canberra. Its Criminal Investigations Program is conducted through six Regional Commands, its Headquarters Investigations Department and its numerous Liaison Officers in many countries.
The AFP is responsible for the prevention, detection and investigation of criminal offences such as drug offences, money laundering and organised crime, identifying the proceeds of crime, and investigation of fraud against Commonwealth revenue and expenditure such as social security and taxation fraud. In the Australian Capital Territory, the AFP provides a full range of general community policing services, including traffic control, special operations, search and rescue services and conventional crime investigations.
National Crime Authority (NCA)
The NCA was established by the Commonwealth Government in July 1984 through the National Crime Authority Act 1984. Similar legislation was passed in each State, the Northern Territory and subsequently the Australian Capital Territory, to underpin the work of the NCA in those jurisdictions. This makes the NCA the only law enforcement agency in Australia whose investigations are not limited by jurisdictional or territorial boundaries.
The decision to establish the NCA was taken in response to the findings of several Royal Commissions conducted in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which revealed the extent of organised criminal activity in Australia. The NCA's mission is to counteract organised criminal activity and reduce its impact on the Australian community, working in cooperation and partnership with other agencies.
Number of sworn police officers
The number of sworn police officers in the various Australian police services is shown in table 11.3. The figures in the table are not directly comparable across the various jurisdictions, as those for NCA and AFP do not differentiate between full-time and part-time officers, whereas those for the States and Territories are on a full-time equivalent basis. Between 1999 and 2000, Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia all experienced increases in the number of sworn police officers, compared with falls in the other States and the Australian Capital Territory. The number of sworn police officers per 100,000 population was noticeably higher in the Northern Territory than elsewhere, at 462 per 100,000.
Further detail on the operations of each police agency may be found in the relevant annual reports to its Minister.
11.3 NUMBER OF SWORN POLICE OFFICERS - 1 July 1999 and 2000
rate per 100,000
rate per 100,000
|National Crime Authority(a) |
|Australian Federal Police(a) |
|(a) Based on actual number of sworn officers, rather than full-time equivalents which is the basis for the figures for all the States and Territories.|
|Source: NCA Annual Report; Report on Government Services 2001 Attachment 8A Table 8a15 for all other State and Territory figures; Australian Federal Police annual report.|
This page last updated 20 August 2007