Australia is served by police agencies in each state and the Northern Territory, with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) being responsible for policing the Australian Capital Territory. The Australia Crime Commission (ACC) and the ACS also have responsibility for the maintenance of law, order and safety.
While the principal duties of the police are the prevention, detection and investigation 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 performing duties as clerks of petty sessions, Crown land bailiffs, mining wardens and inspectors under fisheries and other relevant legislation.
With the exception of the AFP and the ACC, police in Australia are under the control of the relevant state and territory government. However their members also perform certain functions on behalf of the Australian Government such as the registration of aliens, and the enforcement of various Commonwealth Acts and Regulations in conjunction with the AFP and other Commonwealth officers.
Commonwealth policing agencies
Australian Federal Police (AFP)
The AFP is a statutory authority established by the Australian Federal Police Act 1979 (Cwlth). 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 (Cwlth). Complementary legislation was passed in each state and territory to underpin the work of the NCA in those jurisdictions. This ensured that the NCA's investigations were not limited by jurisdictional or territorial boundaries.
On 1 January 2003 the NCA was subsumed by the ACC.
Australian Crime Commission (ACC)
The ACC brings together the skills and functions of the former NCA, the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence, and the Office of Strategic Crime Assessments. The merging of these agencies provides a coordinated national criminal intelligence framework. It allows the setting of national intelligence priorities to avoid duplication; allows areas of new and emerging criminality to be identified and investigated; and provides for investigations to be intelligence driven.
The ACC has in-house and taskforce access to all coercive and investigatory powers that had been available to the NCA. A priority taskforce for the ACC is an investigation into illegal handgun trafficking, both into and within Australia. Other investigations include South-East Asian organised crime, money laundering and tax fraud on the Commonwealth, vehicle rebirthing and identity fraud.
Australian High Tech Crime Centre (AHTCC)
The concept of a national centre to coordinate the efforts of Australian law enforcement in combating serious crime involving complex technology was a priority identified by the Australasian Police Commissioners Conference in its Electronic Crime Strategy, March 2001 and was endorsed by the Australasian Police Ministers Council in November 2002. The Australian Police Commissioners recommended the creation of a single centre to deliver this capability. The AHTCC, hosted by the AFP, includes representation from all state and territory police forces both in its staff and its Board of Management.
The main strength of the AHTCC lies in leveraging the capabilities of each member agency and in coordinating effort to combat high tech crime. In addition, the AHTCC brings national consistency to the management of referrals, training, education, intelligence, policy advice and investigations.
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 ACC 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 2000-01 and 2001-02, all states and the Northern Territory experienced increases in the absolute number of sworn police officers, with the largest increase occurring in Victoria (5%). The Australian Capital Territory was the only jurisdiction with a fall in the number of sworn police officers (1%). The number of sworn police officers per 100,000 population decreased marginally in the Australian Capital Territory (by 2%) and in New South Wales, Western Australia and the Northern Territory (all by less than 1%), and was noticeably higher in the Northern Territory than elsewhere, at 477 per 100,000.
11.3 SWORN POLICE OFFICERS(a)
rate per 100,000
rate per 100,000
|Australian Crime Commission(b)|
|Australian Federal Police(c)|
|New South Wales|
|Australian Capital Territory|
|(a) Where possible, based on full-time equivalents (FTE), except for the ACC, AFP and ACT figures which are based on actual number of sworn officers. NSW data for 2001-02 are based on headcount at 30 June 2002, and are not FTE data.|
(b) Seconded officers from home force. Figures are based on actual number of sworn officers as at 30 June 2002.
(c) Excludes the AFP officers who were responsible for ACT policing and who are separately counted against the ACT.
(d) For 2001-02 WA data exclude 130 recruits in training. Recruits in training were included in data for previous years.
(e) For the NT, sworn police officers include Police auxiliaries and Aboriginal Community Police Officers.
|Source: Australian Federal Police 'Annual Report, 2001-02'; National Crime Authority, 'Annual Report, 2001-02'; Steering Committee for the Review of Commonwealth/State Service Provision, 'Report on Government Services 2003', Attachment 5A for state and territory figures.|
This page last updated 24 March 2006