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), the Australian Customs Service (ACS) and the Australian High Tech Crime Centre (AHTCC) 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, 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.
AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT 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 is responsible for providing a coordinated 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 firearms trafficking, established criminal networks, money laundering and tax fraud, people trafficking for sexual exploitation, amphetamines and other synthetic drugs, identity crime and card skimming, and vehicle rebirthing.
Australian High Tech Crime Centre (AHTCC)
The AHTCC is a national centre for coordination of the efforts of Australian law enforcement in combating serious crime involving complex technology. It provides a national coordinated approach to combating serious, complex and multi-jurisdictional high tech crimes, especially those beyond the capability of single jurisdictions. It assists in improving the capacity of all jurisdictions to deal with high tech crime, and supports efforts to protect the National Information Infrastructure.
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 data for ACC, AFP, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory are based on a headcount at the end of the financial year, whereas those for the other states and territories are on a full-time equivalent basis.
Between 2002-03 and 2003-04 all states and territories, except South Australia, experienced increases in the number of sworn police officers, with the largest increases occurring in the Northern Territory (8%), New South Wales (7%), the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland (4% each). Sworn police officers within the ACC declined by 12%.
11.3 SWORN POLICE OFFICERS(a)
|Australian Crime Commission(c)|
|Australian Federal Police(d)|
|New South Wales|
|Australian Capital Territory|
|(a) Where possible, based on full-time equivalents. However, NSW figures for 2003-04 and the ACC and AFP figures for both 2002-03 and 2003-04 are based on actual number of sworn officers.|
(b) Per 100,000 persons.
(c) Seconded officers from home force.
(d) Excludes the AFP officers who were responsible for ACT policing and who were separately counted against the ACT.
(e) For the NT, sworn police officers include Police auxiliaries and Aboriginal Community Police Officers.
Source: Australian Federal Police 'Annual Report, 2003-04'; Steering Committee for the Review of Commonwealth/State Service Provision, 'Report on Government Services 2005', Attachment 5A for state and territory figures; Australian Crime Commission 'Annual Report 2003-04', Appendix B.
This page last updated 24 January 2007