1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012   
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Crime and justice


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 and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) also have responsibility for the maintenance of law, order and safety.

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. Police may also perform a variety of additional duties in the service of the state. These duties include the prosecution of summary offences, regulation of street traffic, 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, the ACC and the ACBPS, police agencies in Australia are under the control of the relevant state or 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.


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, Australian Capital Territory. The eight key national functions of the AFP are: Serious and Organised Crime, Crime Operations, Intelligence, International Deployment Group, Counter Terrorism, Protection, Aviation and High Tech Crime Operations.

The AFP's role is to enforce Commonwealth criminal law and to protect national interests from crime in Australia and overseas. It is responsible for the prevention, detection and investigation of criminal offences such as drug offences, high tech crime, and money laundering and organised crime. The AFP is also responsible for identifying the proceeds of crime; preventing, countering and investigating terrorism; and investigating 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 investigation.

Australian Crime Commission (ACC)

The ACC is responsible for providing a co-ordinated national criminal intelligence framework to deal with serious and organised criminal activity. It has access to special coercive powers to assist in intelligence operations and investigation, for circumstances where traditional law enforcement methods are not sufficient to combat sophisticated criminal activity.

Special investigations are undertaken by the ACC. These include matters such as targeting high risk criminals and crime groups, criminal wealth and established criminal networks.

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS)

The ACBPS manages the security and integrity of Australia's borders. It is responsible for the detection and the deterrence of the unlawful movement of goods, such as illegal drugs and firearms and people across the border.


The number of sworn police officers in the various police services in 2009–10 is shown in table 13.3. The figures in the table are not directly comparable across the various jurisdictions, as data for ACC, AFP and the Northern Territory are based on a headcount at the end of the financial year, whereas those for other jurisdictions are on a full-time equivalent (FTE) basis.



Australian Crime Commission(c)
Australian Federal Police(d)
3 056
New South Wales
16 802
12 945
13 087
South Australia
5 105
Western Australia
6 382
1 372
Northern Territory
1 528
Australian Capital Territory

na not available
(a) FTE staff except for the Australian Crime Commission, Australian Federal Police and Northern Territory totals, where data are based on headcounts.
(b) Rate per 100,000 people.
(c) Includes ACC seconded police and task force staff.
(d) The 2009–10 financial year includes AIPM (Australian Institute of Police Management) recorded in the AFP (Australian Federal Police) total numbers.
Source: Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision, Report on Government Services 2011; Australian Crime Commission, Annual Report 2009–10; Australian Federal Police, Annual Report 2009–10.


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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.