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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2005  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/01/2005   
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Contents >> Crime and justice >> The police

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 Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and the Australian Customs Service (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.

Australian Crime Commission (ACC)

The ACC brings together the skills and functions of the former National Crime Authority, 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. Special investigations are undertaken by the ACC and these include firearms trafficking, South-East Asian organised crime, established criminal networks, money laundering and tax fraud on the Commonwealth. There are also two ACC intelligence operations on amphetamines and other synthetic drugs, and vehicle rebirthing.

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 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 2001-02 and 2002-03 all states and territories (except Tasmania and the Northern Territory) experienced increases in the number of sworn police officers, with the largest increases occurring in New South Wales and Victoria both (3%). The number of sworn police officers per 100,000 persons decreased by 22% in the Northern Territory and marginally in Western Australia and Tasmania (both approximately 1%). However, the Northern Territory still had a noticeably higher rate of sworn police officers, at 396 per 100,000.



Police officers
rate per 100,000
rate per 100,000

Australian Crime Commission(b)
Australian Federal Police(c)
New South Wales
South Australia
Western Australia(d)
Northern Territory(e)
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 both years are based on a headcount at 30 June, and are not FTE data.
(b) Seconded officers from home force. Figures are based on actual number of sworn officers at 30 June for each year.
(c) Excludes the AFP officers who were responsible for ACT policing and who were separately counted against the ACT.
(d) For 2001-02, WA data excluded 130 recruits in training.
(e) For the NT, sworn police officers include Police auxiliaries and Aboriginal Community Police Officers.

Source: Australian Federal Police 'Annual Report, 2002-03'; National Crime Authority, 'Annual Report, 2002-03'; Steering Committee for the Review of Commonwealth/State Service Provision, 'Report on Government Services 2004', Attachment 5A for state and territory figures; Australian Crime Commission 'Annual Report 2002-03', Appendix B.

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