Australian Federal Police

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Australian Federal Police
Abbreviation AFP
Australian Federal Police.png
Patch of the Australian Federal Police.
Flag of the Australian Federal Police.
Agency overview
Formed 19 October 1979
Preceding agencies
Employees 6,598 (30 June 2008)[1]
Volunteers Small numbers for non-operations related activity.
Annual budget A$1.8 billion (2010-11)[2]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency Australia
Governing body Parliament of Australia
Constituting instrument Australian Federal Police Act 1979
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Edmund Barton Building, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Sworn members 2,855 (30 June 2008)[1]
Unsworn members 2,402 (30 June 2008)[1]
Minister responsible The Hon Brendan O'Connor, MP, Member for Gorton, Home Affairs
Agency executive Tony Negus, Commissioner
The Australian Federal Police, while a federal agency, provides policing to dependent Australian on and offshore Commonwealth Territories.
Former Australian Federal Police Headquarters

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is the federal police agency of the Commonwealth of Australia. Although the AFP was created by the amalgamation in 1979 of three Commonwealth law enforcement agencies, it traces its history from Commonwealth law enforcement agencies dating back to the federation of Australia's six precursor British self-governing colonies in 1901.

The role of the AFP is to enforce Commonwealth of Australia criminal law and to protect Commonwealth and national interests from crime in Australia and overseas. The AFP is Australia's international law enforcement and policing representative, and the Government's chief source of advice on policing issues.[3]

Since 7 September 2009, the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police has been Mr Tony Negus, who was sworn in following the retirement of the previous commissioner, Mick Keelty.[4]


The AFP was formed on 19 October 1979 under the Australian Federal Police Act 1979[3] after the merging of the former Commonwealth Police and the Australian Capital Territory Police. In November 1979, the Federal Narcotics Bureau was transferred to the new agency.[5] In 1984 the Protective Service component of the AFP was separated forming the Australian Protective Service under the Administrative Service and later governed by Attorney Generals Department, subsequently that government agency was transferred back to the AFP in 2004 and is now known as Australian Federal Police Uniform Protection.

Roles and functions[edit]

The AFP fell within the portfolio of the Home Affairs Ministry, a ministerial position outside of the Cabinet and subordinate to the Attorney-General. The Minister responsible for the AFP was the Minister for Home Affairs Jason Clare, MP.[3] Prior to the creation of this ministerial portfolio with the commencement of Rudd Government in November 2007, the Minister responsible for the AFP was the Minister for Justice and Customs.

Key priorities of the AFP are set by the Australian Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, through a 'Ministerial Direction' issued under the Australian Federal Police Act 1979. The current Ministerial Direction was issued by the former Minister for Home Affairs, Brendon O'Connor, MP, on 1 July 2010.[6]

The AFP enforces Commonwealth law and protects Commonwealth and national interests from crime in Australia and overseas. The AFP provides community policing to the ACT, the Jervis Bay Territory, Norfolk Island, Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. The AFP provides protective security for (and on behalf of) the Australian Government.

The AFP is Australia's international law enforcement and policing representative, and is the chief advisor on policing issues to the Australian Government. The AFP maintains an extensive international liaison network, officers are posted to 33 international posts. The AFP works closely and collaboratively with all Australian police forces and criminal investigative agencies and Crime Commissions.

The AFP consists of a workforce of over 6500. The Australian Federal Police Act 1979 is the legislative base for the employment of all AFP staff. Each employee is described in the legislation as an AFP Employee, who are then declared as either a Member (Police Officer, Federal agent) or (Uniform Protection Officer) -Protective Service Division. In addition, the Commissioner may appoint any person as a Special Member of the AFP. A Special Member may be given any powers and duties of an AFP member under the Act but is not regarded as a special constable.

Industrial representation of AFP staff solely rests with the Australian Federal Police Association branch of the Police Federation of Australia.


Federal Agents are based in each Australian state and Territory capital city, internationally and form the largest component of the AFP staff, Federal Agents chiefly perform criminal investigative duties.

Current areas of focus for the AFP:

The AFP hosts the National Missing Persons Coordination Unit, the Australian Interpol National Central Bureau and the Australian Bomb Data Centre.

Members of the AFP outside of the Australian Capital Territory and other Commonwealth places do not exercise the powers, obligations and liabilities of a constable at common law. Consequently, they are identified by each State of the Commonwealth as Federal Agents; that is a member of a Law Enforcement Agency, not a police service.

Assault rifle-armed AFP officers are situated in both chambers of the Parliament of Australia as of 2015. It is the first time in Australian history that parliament possesses armed personnel.[7]

Community policing role[edit]

Main article: ACT Policing
A Traffic Operations vehicle, with Traffic Operations and other officers in ceremonial dress at the 2008 National Anzac Day Service at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

The AFP provides community policing services to the Australian Capital Territory, under a contractual agreement between the Australian Government and the ACT Government. This AFP portfolio, ACT Policing, is the successor of the ACT Police, one of the agencies that was merged to form the AFP in 1979. The mission of ACT Policing is to keep the peace and preserve public safety for the citizens of the ACT. Key sections of ACT Policing include general duties, crime and safety management, criminal investigations, crime prevention, traffic operations and criminal intelligence. The head of ACT Policing is known as the Chief Police Officer of the Australian Capital Territory.

The AFP also provides community policing and counter terrorism first response duties at major Australian airports. Additionally the AFP provides community policing within the Jervis Bay Territory and in the external Australian Territories of Norfolk Island, Christmas Island and the Cocos Islands.

The AFP provides a mix of United Nations peacekeeping, community policing and capacity development roles and services in a number of nations.

Uniform protection role[edit]

AFP providing Uniform Protection outside the Swedish Embassy in Canberra, Australia

AFP Uniform Protection provides physical protection for the Australian Government at key locations throughout Australia and internationally. Uniform Protection officers are firearms and defensive tactics trained, and perform duties which include armed escorts, bomb appraisals, bomb detection canines, visitor control, static guarding, alarm monitoring and response, mobile, foot and bicycle patrols, maintain civil order, security consultancy services, counter terrorism first response at many Commonwealth establishments. Uniform Protection Officers have powers under Section 14 of the AFP Act 1979 to arrest, stop, search, and request identification in their jurisdiction. Uniform Protection officers undertake an essential role in protecting Australia's critical infrastructure and assist in providing protection for Australian High Office Holders, diplomatic, consular personnel and other foreign nationals.

Uniform Protection Officers providing an armed uniform capability are located at Commonwealth establishments including Parliament House in Canberra; the residences of the Prime Minister and Governor-General; foreign Embassies and Consulates in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth; the Australian Nuclear Scientific Technology Organisation installation, Joint Defence Facilities such as the Australian Defence Force Headquarters in Canberra, Holsworthy Barracks, Garden Island Naval Base, Victoria Barracks, Pine Gap US Defence installation and sensitive covert locations in Australia and internationally.

International Deployment Group[edit]

Since its inception, the AFP has had a long tradition of involvement in international peacekeeping, policing and capacity development. International Deployment Group (IDG) is an AFP portfolio that has increased rapidly in a short time since its inception in 2004. Since 1964, Australia has contributed police officers to the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. AFP officers have also previously served with the United Nations in East Timor (Timor Leste) and South Sudan.

In recent years, Australian Government efforts to assist neighbouring and remote countries with institutional capacity building has led to AFP deployments to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands (Under the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands), Timor-Leste (Under the Timor-Leste Police Development Program TLPDP, Nauru, Tonga, Vanuatu, Afghanistan, Samoa and Vanuatu.

Previous peacekeeping missions have included Haiti, Mozambique, Thailand, Namibia, and Somalia.

IDG utilise the Specialist Response Group for particular medium and high risk planned operations or emergency incidents in addition to assisting with capacity building and force protection operations.

Ceremonial and protocol duties[edit]

To recognise, celebrate and respectfully honour the achievements and commitments made by members of the AFP, the AFP Ceremonial Team conducts and participates in a variety of police and community functions and ceremonies.

Ceremonial events include: Annual National Police Remembrance Day Service at the National Police Memorial in Canberra on 29 September, medal presentations, parades, police funerals, memorial services, official opening of Police Stations and Policing Facilities, AFP Pipes and Drums concerts, inauguration events and Public relations events

The Ceremonial Team coordinates the AFP Ceremonial and Protocol Officer (CAPO) Network, the AFP Ceremonial Mounted Cadre and the AFP Pipes and Drums to perform ceremonial duties at these functions and ceremonies.

The AFP Ceremonial Mounted Cadre was raised on 29 September 2006 at the dedication of the National Police Memorial. The ceremonial uniform comprises linkages to former mounted policing units of the AFP's predecessor organisations, namely the Commonwealth Police and the Peace Officer guard, as well as mounted policing units from the NSW Police Force which patrolled the geographic area of the Australian Capital Territory.

The AFP Ceremonial and Protocol team currently provide Drill Instructor Accreditations for both the AFP and the NSW Police Force, and also provide Ceremonial and Protocol Officer accreditation for all of Australia's policing jurisdictions.

International network[edit]

The AFP has an international network to assist with enquiries and liaison with police agencies around the world. The AFP represents Australian state/ territory police agencies internationally. AFP's International Liaison Officer Network has 85 AFP appointees in 30 countries around the world. AFP International Liaison Officers are the Australian Government's law enforcement representatives overseas.[8]

Commissioners since 1979[edit]

The senior AFP officer is the Commissioner of Police, appointed under Section 17 of the Australian Federal Police Act 1979.

Period Name Post-
1979–1982 Sir Colin Woods KCVO CBE QPM
1983–1988 Major General Ron Grey AO DSO
1988–1994 Peter McAulay AO QPM
1994–2001 Mick Palmer AO APM
2 April 2001 – 2 September 2009 Mick Keelty AO APM
7 September 2009 – September 30 2014 Tony Negus APM
1 October 2014 – current Andrew Colvin OAM APM

Titles and ranks[edit]

AFP members performing duties in ACT Policing, External Territories, Aviation, International Deployment Group (mission component) use uniform and community policing ranks. All other members use the title Federal Agent. Where applicable qualified members are also entitled to use Detective designation.

AFP Commissioner's Order 1 (Administration) states that every AFP Member holds a rank (as detailed below), with the corresponding title and role adopted.

Police ranks[edit]

Uniform and Community Policing Rank/Title Broadband Rank Role National Operations Title
Constable/First Constable/Senior Constable/Leading Senior Constable Constable Team Member Federal Agent, Team Member
Sergeant/Station Sergeant Sergeant Team Leader Federal Agent, Team Leader
Superintendent Superintendent Coordinator Federal Agent, Coordinator
Commander Commander Manager Commander, Manager
Assistant Commissioner Assistant Commissioner National Manager Assistant Commissioner, National Manager
Deputy Commissioner Deputy Commissioner Deputy Commissioner Deputy Commissioner
Commissioner Commissioner Commissioner Commissioner

First Constable is a reflection of four years of service as a Member. Senior Constable is a reflection of six years of service as a Member

Uniform Protection officer ranks[edit]

Uniform Protection officers hold the following ranks:

Protective Service Officer/Protective Service Officer Grade 1/Protective Service Officer Grade 2/Senior Protective Service Officer

Protective Service Sergeant

Protective Service Superintendent

Constable and Non-commissioned ranks
Constable Senior
Wa-police-constable.png Wa-police-senior-constable.png Nsw-police-force-incremental-senior-sergeant.png


Haneef Affair[edit]

In 2 July 2007 Muhamed Haneef was arrested and held by the AFP for terror-related incidents. It was the longest detention without charge under recent anti-terror laws and was found to be unjustified.

Martens Conviction[edit]

In October 2006 a Cairns jury convicted pilot Frederic Arthur Martens under sex tourism laws of raping a 14 year old girl in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. However, Martins was not in Port Moresby at the time, and flight records could prove this. However, the AFP refused to retrieve those records despite numerous requests, and Martins could not as he was in jail. When the records were eventually retrieved by Martins' partner the convictions were quashed, with strong criticism of the AFP by Justice Chesterman.

The AFP also froze all of Martin's funds while he was in custody, which prevented treatment for his daughter in Port Moresby who died as a result. [9]

See also[edit]


Similar agencies in other nations[edit]






New Zealand






External links[edit]