New South Wales Police Force

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New South Wales Police Force
NSW Police Force.png
New South Wales Police Force crest
NSW Police flag.jpg
New South Wales Police Force Flag
Motto Culpam Poena Premit Comes
Punishment follows closely on guilt[1]
Agency overview
Formed 1862
Employees 20,329[2]
Volunteers 495[3]
Annual budget A$3.4 billion (2014/15)[4]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* State of New South Wales, Australia
Size 809,444 sq km
Population 7,410,700[5]
Legal jurisdiction State of New South Wales
Governing body Government of New South Wales
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Parramatta, New South Wales
Officers 16,467[6]
Unsworn members 3,862[2]
Minister responsible Troy Grant, Minister for Justice and Police
Agency executive Andrew Scipione, APM, Commissioner
Stations 426+
Airbases 1
Police Boats 52
Helicopters 5
Airplanes 2
Horses 38[7]
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The New South Wales Police Force (NSW Police Force; previously the New South Wales Police Service and New South Wales Police) is the primary law enforcement agency of the state of New South Wales, Australia. It is an agency of the NSW government within the NSW Ministry for Police and Emergency Services. Divided into seventy six local area commands (LAC),[8] the NSW Police Force consists of more than 500 local police stations and covers an area of 801,600 square kilometres in a state of some seven million people.[4]

Under the Police Regulation Act, 1862 (NSW), the organisation of the NSW Police Force was formally established in 1862 with the unification of all existing independent police units in the state. The authority and responsibility of the entire police force was given to the inspector general of police.[9]

The 1990s were a turbulent period in NSW police history. The Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Service was held between 1995 and 1997. The Royal Commission uncovered hundreds of instances of bribery, money laundering, drug trafficking, and falsifying of evidence by police. The police commissioner, Tony Lauer, resigned as the level of corruption in the service became clear and his own position untenable. Peter James Ryan was recruited from the UK. Wide-ranging reforms occurred as a result of the recommendations of the Royal Commission, including the establishment of a permanent Police Integrity Commission.

The current commissioner of the NSW Police Force is Andrew Scipione, APM, who replaced Ken Moroney, AOAPM, on 31 August 2007, with Deputy Commissioner Dave Hudson, APM, Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas, APM and deputy commissioner Catherine Burn, APM. The minister for justice and police, Troy Grant, is responsible to the NSW parliament for the police portfolio. Grant is a former NSW police officer who served 22 years before entering politics.[10]

As of October 2014, the police force consists of some 16,467 officers[6]

Mission and authority[edit]

The motto of the NSW Police Force is the Latin Culpam poena premit comes ("Punishment follows closely upon crime").[11] The police insignia includes the motto. Its coat of arms features the state badge, a soaring Australian wedge-tailed eagle carrying a scroll with the word Nemesis, a wreath and the St Edwards Crown, the crown of the Queen as the NSW head of state.[12]

The overall mission of the police is to protect life and property and to detect and prevent crime.

Services provided by the New South Wales Police Force include:[4]

  • Preventing, detecting and investigating crime;
  • Monitoring and promoting road safety;
  • Maintaining social order;
  • Performing and coordinating search and rescue operations; and
  • Emergency management

Further policing duties performed are traffic control, intelligence analysis and anti-terrorism investigation.

Like all other states of Australia, municipalities and shires in NSW have only very limited law enforcement responsibilities. The police perform the primary law enforcement role in all areas of the state.


1788 – Australia's first police force[edit]

The New South Wales Police Force has existed in various forms since the foundation of the colony of New South Wales at Sydney in 1788. In order to protect the infant town against thieves and petty criminals after dark, Governor Arthur Phillip authorised the formation of a nightwatch in August 1789, consisting of eight of the best-behaved convicts.[13] After his appointment as the new governor of New South Wales, Governor Lachlan Macquarie restructured the police force in January 1811, setting up a basic system of ranks and control and recruiting free men into the force instead of convicts. Police units were under the rule of the district magistrates.

Responding to the various forms of crime, a number of independent specialised units were set up. The earliest of these units formed was the Mounted Police, established in 1825 to keep the settlers safe and guard road transportation. In 2009, it had 34 horses and was claimed to be the oldest mounted police unit in the world.[14]

Other specialist groups formed during this time were the Water Police (formed in 1832), the Border Police (formed in 1839) and the Native Police (formed in 1848).[13]

Police Regulation Act, 1862[edit]

As the colony expanded, a more sophisticated form of crime management was called for; this involved unifying all the police units into a single cohesive police force with the centralisation of authority. After a failed attempt made by Act No. 38 of 1850, unified control of the police eventuated in 1862 when the Police Regulation Act (1862) was passed, establishing the New South Wales Police Force. The first inspector general of police, John McLerie, was appointed to assume overall authority and responsibility. The Police Regulation (Amendment) Act, passed in 1935, changed the official title to commissioner of police, with its role clearly defined. The position of deputy commissioner was also created.[15]

By 1872, there were seventy police stations throughout the colony in sub-districts, with a total of 803 police officers. In 1915, the first female police officers were appointed. In 1961, the year before the centenary of the Police Force, the number of members of the force increased to 5717, which rose to a total strength of 15,354 in November 2008.[16]


After the formation of the New South Wales Police Force in 1862, most crimes were conducted by bushrangers, particularly during the Victorian gold rush years. Constable Byrne almost single-handedly fought off the Ben Hall gang when they attacked a gold escort at Major's Creek on 13 March 1865. Constable O'Grady was taken ill with cholera when, on 9 April 1866, he left his sick-bed to confront the Clarke gang, who were renowned as being the "bloodiest bushrangers" of the colony of NSW and of Australia. Constable Walker was one of the earliest Australian-born mounted troopers to gain fame. He brought Captain Thunderbolt's enduring "bushranging" career to an end by shooting him near Uralla in New England, NSW.

Constable Ernest Charles Day (later the Inspector General of Police) showed courage under fire when he shot and captured bushranger Hobson, who was later hanged. Day later investigated a string of murders involving a hawker, Tommy Moore, by tracing his activities to South Australia, solving one of Australia's earliest serial-killer cases.[17]


In 1894 a number of unarmed police were seriously injured while attempting to arrest a group of offenders as they attempted to break open a safe in the Union Steamship Company Office in Bridge Street, Sydney. The incident received wide publicity and was known as "Bridge Street Affray".[18] Within 24 hours the premier announced that all police would wear firearms at all times while on duty to prevent the escape of felons and to place them on an equal footing with armed criminals. Previously only police in rural districts had been permitted to carry firearms. Parliament subsequently passed legislation authorising the arming of all members of the NSW Police Force and all Police have carried firearms ever since.[19]

Notable events[edit]

NSW police officers have been involved in many notable events in the state's history, including APEC Australia 2007, the 1997 Thredbo landslide, Waterfall train disaster, Grafton bus crash, 1989 Newcastle earthquake, Sydney Hilton bombing, the arrest of serial killer Ivan Milat, the 2004 Redfern riots, the 2005 Macquarie Fields riots and the 2005 Cronulla riots. They were responsible for the security of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and World Youth Day 2008.

Lusher Commission of Inquiry[edit]

In 1979, the NSW government of Neville Wran called on Justice Edwin Lusher, a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales to chair a commission of inquiry into police administration.[20][21]

Police Service Act, 1990[edit]

The Police Service Act, 1990 (NSW) was introduced to replace the Police Regulation Act. The Police Force was consequently renamed to the "New South Wales Police Service", which reflected "community-based policing at the time" of the Greiner government[22] and the public's responsibility in crime control, aided by the police.[23] In accordance with the Police Service Amendment (NSW Police) Bill in 2002, the New South Wales Police Service was then renamed again to simply New South Wales Police.[24] The then Minister for Police, Michael Costa, explains:[25]

'NSW Police' is the name on which everybody signed off and it is the name with which we were to come to the Parliament... I do not believe we need the word 'service' in the name of the police force. I do not accept the argument that we need the word 'service' in a community-based policing approach.

In 2006, the Police Amendment (Miscellaneous) Bill resulted in a name change for the third time, renaming the New South Wales Police to New South Wales Police Force.[26]

Amalgamation of special security units, 1991[edit]

In June 1991, the State Protection Group (SPG) was formed, incorporating the former Special Weapons & Operations Section (SWOS), the Witness Security Unit, regional Tactical Response Groups and the Rescue Squad. The Security Management Branch and the Bomb Disposal Unit were later included in the group.

The New South Wales Police Force has grown to be the largest in Australia.[4]

Volunteering and NSW Police[edit]

After much debate, the NSW Parliament passed the Police Service (Volunteer Police) Amendment Act, 1992 (NSW), which sought to trial voluntary service within the police force, along the lines of the United Kingdom's special constabularies. The trial was not successful and lapsed with the automatic repeal of the Act in 1994. The successor to this scheme was the Volunteers in Policing (VIP) program which restricts volunteer participation to non-core administration and community tasks, without enforcement duties or other powers being granted.[27]

Wood Royal Commission[edit]

The 1990s were a turbulent period in NSW Police history. The Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Service was held between 1995 and 1997. The Royal Commission uncovered hundreds of instances of bribery, money laundering, drug trafficking, and falsifying of evidence by police. Then Police Commissioner Tony Lauer resigned as the level of corruption within the service became clear, and his own position became untenable. Peter James Ryan was recruited from the United Kingdom. Wide ranging reforms occurred as a result of the recommendations of the Royal Commission, including the establishment of a permanent Police Integrity Commission. The royal commissioner was Justice James Roland Wood. The terms of reference were to look into systemic and entrenched corruption within the New South Wales Police; towards the end of the Royal Commission it also investigated alleged paedophile activities within the police service. The Royal Commission uncovered hundreds of instances of bribery, money laundering, drug trafficking, and falsifying of evidence by police. Of particular note was the detective division of the Kings Cross patrol, of which almost all the senior ranks, including the chief detective, were involved in serious and organised corrupt activities, including taking regular bribes from major drug traffickers.

2015 shooting[edit]

On 2 October 2015, a 15 year old Iraqi-Kurdish boy shot dead a 58 year old accountant who worked for the police outside the Parramatta headquarters.[28][29][30] The 15 year old then shot at police officers, and died from gunfire. NSW Police commissioner Andrew Scipione said “We believe that his actions were politically motivated and therefore linked to terrorism.” The attack appears to have similar motives to the 2014 Endeavour Hills stabbings.


The headquarters of the New South Wales Police Force is located at 1 Charles Street, Parramatta 2150. The police maintain more than 500 local police stations, which are coordinated by their respective local area commands.

The former police headquarters Avery Building at centre of picture seen in College Street, Sydney in 2007
A police station standard.


There are three major divisions: Corporate Services, Field Operations and Specialist Operations.[31] Corporate Services is headed by the Deputy Commissioner (Corporate Services), who is charged with the management of recruitment and education, firearms, records and information process services, the Security Industry Registry, investment and commercial services, safety, business and technology services, human resources, education services, finance, public affairs and legal services. The current Deputy Commissioner, Corporate Services is Dave Hudson.

Field Operations is headed by Deputy Commissioner (Field Operations), is responsible for managing and overseeing the Central Metropolitan, North West Metropolitan, South West Metropolitan, Northern, Southern and Western regions, and the Firearms Registry, Major Events and Incidents Group, and the State Crime Command. The current Deputy Commissioner (Field Operations) is Nick Kaldas.

Specialist Operations is headed by the Deputy Commissioner (Specialist Operations). It is responsible for a range of specialist groups, including Counter Terrorism & Special Tactics (including the State Protection Group, Forensic Services Group, Operational Communications & Information Command, Police Prosecutions Command, Public Affairs and Corporate Communications, Special Services Group, Traffic & Highway Patrol Command and Police Transport Command. The current Deputy Commissioner (Specialist Operations) is Catherine Burn.[32]

Field operations: major events and incidents group[edit]

Mounted Police Unit see main article New South Wales Mounted Police

NSW Mounted Police officers on duty at AgQuip, Gunnedah.

Founded in September 1825 by state governor Thomas Brisbane, the mounted police were recruited from a British military regiment stationed in NSW at the time, to protect travellers, suppress convict escapees and fight Indigenous Australians. For more than a century they were a key part of policing, since horses were the main form of transport. The NSW Mounted Police Unit is the oldest continuous mounted group in the world.[33] The unit was formed three years before the London Mounted Police and 38 years before the 1873 formation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.[34]

Duties include traffic and crowd management, patrols, and ceremonial protocol duties. The 34 horses used today are bay geldings (with the exception of two mares), 15.3 hands high or more, and include a number of former racehorses.[33]

Local area commands[edit]

These are listed by cad prefix/vehicle bonnet codes.

AB Albury AS Ashfield BA Barwon BB Botany Bay BK Bankstown
BL Blue Mountains BN Blacktown BR Barrier BU Burwood BW Brisbane Water
CA Campsie CB Canobolas CC Coffs/Clarence CE Cessnock CEH Central Hunter
CF Chifley CM Cabramatta CN Camden CS Castlereagh CT Campbelltown
CU Cootamundra DL Darling River DQ Deniliquin EB Eastern Beaches ES Eastern Suburbs
FA Fairfield FL Flemington FS Far South Coast GF Griffith
GV Green Valley HB Hawkesbury HI The Hills HR Holroyd
HS Harbourside HME The Hume HV Hunter Valley KU Ku-Ring-Gai KX Kings Cross
LE Leichhardt LI Lake Illawarra LL Lachlan LM Lake Macquarie LP Liverpool
MC Mid North Coast MD Mount Druitt ME Mudgee MF Macquarie Fields MGL Manning/Great Lakes
MI Miranda ML Manly MN Monaro MOE Moree MR Marrickville
NB Northern Beaches NC Newcastle NCC Newcastle City ND New England NS North Shore
NT Newtown OR Orana OX Oxley PA Parramatta PE Penrith
PTS Port Stephens QH Quakers Hill RB Rose Bay RF Redfern RH Rosehill
RM Richmond RY Ryde SC Sydney City SG St George SH Surry Hills
SM St Marys SU Sutherland SV Shoalhaven TB Tweed/Byron TL Tuggerah Lakes
WG Wollongong WT Waratah WW Wagga Wagga

Specialist squads and groups (listed by CAD prefix / vehicle bonnet codes)[edit]

Note: Traffic and Highway Patrol Command uses Region prefixes for field operations HWP units (such as NWM, SWM etc.) for vehicles primarily based in that region but these resources do not belong to the region unlike RES/OSG etc.

CIU Crash Investigation Unit ACD NSW Police Academy CLM Central Metropolitan Region DOG Dog Squad ICV In Car Video Trial
FLT Fleet trial vehicle FMS Fleet (Management) Services FSG Forensic Services Group MDT Mobile Data Terminal trial vehicle PTC Police Transport Command
MEO or MEOC Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad MTD Mounted Police NTH Northern Region NWM North West Metropolitan Region OSG Public Order Operational Support Group
PDT Police Driver Training PORS Public Order & Riot Squad RES or R Police Rescue WTN Western Region SLP School Liaison Police
STH Southern Region SWM South West Metropolitan Region TLN Strike Force Talon TOU Tactical Operations Unit TRF Traffic and Highway Patrol Command

Rank structure[edit]

Former Wagga Wagga Local Area Commander, Superintendent Frank Goodyer

The New South Wales Police Force is run as a community policing model. All sworn members start at the lowest rank of probationary constable / constable and may work their way up. Promotion beyond senior constable is highly competitive. The following ranks are listed lowest to highest from left as set out in 2002:[35]

Constable and non-commissioned ranks
Rank Probationary
Constable Senior
Sergeant Incremental
Insignia Nsw-police-force-probationa.png Nsw-police-constable.png Nsw-police-force-senior-constable.png Nsw-police-force-incremental-senior-constable.png Nsw-police-force-leading-senior-constable.png Nsw-police-force-sergeant.png Nsw-police-force-senior-sergeant.png Nsw-police-force-incremental-senior-sergeant.png
Commissioned ranks
Rank Inspector Chief
Superintendent Chief
Insignia Nsw-police-force-inspector.png Nsw-police-force-chief-inspector.png Nsw-police-force-superintendent.png Nsw-police-force-chief-superintendent.png Nsw-police-force-assistant-commissioner.png Nsw-police-force-senior-assistant-commissioner.png Nsw-police-force-deputy-commissioner.png Nsw-police-force-commissioner.png


All grades of constable perform the same basic range of duties, with the rank only reflecting experience. The rank of probationary constable is held for the first twelve months of service. Following 12 months of satisfactory service and on completion of the associate degree of policing practice via distance education, the probationary constable is confirmed to the rank of constable. Within the force, probationary constables are often referred to as "probies".

Promotion to the rank of senior constable can be obtained after five years service and requires the officer to pass an examination which can cover a broad area of policing knowledge. Incremental senior constable is obtained after ten years of service. Senior constables of all grades are referred to as either "senior constable" or "senior".

Non-commissioned officers[edit]

Promotion to the rank of sergeant and beyond is achieved by way of a "merit based" promotion system, whereby officers undertake a series of "pre-qualification assessments" and are placed on a ranked list before gaining promotion. Officers who qualify for a promotion list are given an eligibility mark and are ranked according to order of merit from the highest mark to the lowest. This means that the highest-ranked member on the promotions list will be considered first for the rank and position concerned. Members seeking placement on a promotion list must have spent the requisite time at the rank below, which is at least two years, and must have successfully completed the relevant pre-qualifying assessment examinations, an applicant evaluation and must meet the eligibility program. A new promotion list for each rank or grade is prepared each year, and an applicant who does not accept promotion can remain on a list only for three years before having to requalify for the list.[36]

On promotion to sergeant and senior sergeant, members are issued a warrant of appointment under the commissioner's hand and seal.

A sergeant normally supervises a team of constables during a shift. A detective sergeant is normally in charge of a team in a specific part of either a local area command detectives office or a specialist squad in the State Crime Command.

Senior sergeants are generally attached to "regions" as region training coordinators, region traffic coordinators, region operations coordinator positions or in legal services, professional standards, protocol, education services and perform middle-management duties.

Sergeants and incremental sergeants are referred to as "sergeant"; senior sergeants are referred to as "senior sergeant".

Commissioned officers[edit]

On completing at least two years as a sergeant (but usually more), and the relevant pre-qualification assessments, an officer may be elevated to the rank of "inspector" and issued a certificate of commission under the commissioner's hand and seal. Commissioned officers may be acknowledged by the rank they hold or more commonly as "sir", "ma'am" or "boss".

An inspector oversees sergeants and teams of constables and traditionally performs more administrative work, coordination of policing operations or specialist work. At local area commands, an inspector is allocated to each shift as a "duty officer" and oversees the general running of the police station.

Superintendents are usually "commanders" of local area commands or specialist units.

Assistant commissioners are generally "commanders" of regions or corporate portfolios.

As of 2010, the rank of senior assistant commissioner has been dispensed with. Officers currently holding this rank will retain it until retiring or upon promotion to a higher rank.[citation needed]


If a New South Wales Police Force officer elects to undertake criminal investigation duties, after a period of exams and assignments, and given experience in a criminal investigation office that officer is given the designation of "detective". As it is a designation and not a rank, the designation comes prior to the rank, i.e. detective constable, or detective senior constable etc. Returning to general duties (uniform) is common for detectives, and many detectives do seek promotion in the general duties arena. However, while they do not lose their detective's designation if they leave full-time investigation duties, it is customary not to use their designation while performing general or other duties which are not an authorised investigative position. On returning to an authorised position they can use their designation again without having to requalify. There has been some consideration given by the police force in recent years to identify designated detectives performing uniform duties by way of a distinctive badge or uniform embellishment, but this has not been adopted.

Uniform and equipment[edit]

Field and service dress[edit]

New South Wales Police Force has two uniforms for general duties police officers, one operational (field dress) and one ceremonial (service dress).

Field dress consists of navy blue cargo pants with map pockets, ballooned at the bottom, light blue marle short or long sleeve shirt, navy blue baseball cap with blue and white sillitoe tartan, and black general purpose boots. During winter a navy blue polartec-fleece jacket or leather jacket is worn. Ranks are worn on the shoulders by both NCOs and commissioned ranks.

Service dress consists of general purpose boots, straight leg navy blue trousers, blue marle shirt, antron cap/hat and leather duty jacket. Depending on rank, members may be issued with high-shine polishable lace-up leather boots for ceremonial occasions, similar to that worn by military personnel.

Officers wear a similar uniform when attending court proceedings, this is usually the full service dress both during summer and winter.

During ceremonial occasions, NSW Police Force College staff, New South Wales Police Force protocol and NSW Police Force field protocol officers generally wear a navy blue ceremonial tunic during official occasions such as attestation parades (passing out parades), medal ceremonies and funerals etc.

Field protocol officers are issued with a light blue/navy blue lanyard to be worn over the right shoulder and tucked into the right pocket during ceremonial occasions.

Full-time protocol officers and members of the VIP cyclists are entitled to wear a black basketweave Sam Browne belt during ceremonial occasions.

In line with the name change of the organisation back to "NSW Police Force", the current shoulder patch for uniform reads New South Wales Police Force, and has a redesigned and recoloured eagle.

Specialist groups and special events[edit]

New South Wales Police Force officers are also entitled to wear mess dress with mess kit for black tie or formal dinners/dances. The dark navy blue trousers and mess jacket with cobalt blue cuffs, epaulettes (with ranks) and lapels clearly identify them as being members of the police.

Specialist units such as the Public Order and Riot Squad, Air Wing, Marine Area Command and the State Protection Group Tactical Operations Unit all have different uniform needs and are outfitted accordingly such as Rescue and Bomb Disposal Unit with their white overalls, Tactical Operations Unit (TOU) with black and Dog Squad with subdued blue. Detectives wear plain clothes.

During ANZAC day marches and United Nations Day marches in Sydney, police officers can be seen alongside their Australian Federal Police counterparts wearing the distinctive United Nations blue beret and full sized medals, if they have served with the Australian Federal Police in United Nations sanctioned peacekeeping operations.

Arms and appointments[edit]


Members of the NSW Police are issued with the Glock 22. After the work of Task Force ALPHA 1992 and the research testing and report done by senior constable Darren Stewart recommending the introduction of the Glock 22 superseding the Smith & Wesson .38 calbre model 10 with some specialist sections and plain clothes officers having either the smaller Glock 23 or Glock 27 models available in lieu of the standard model. Members are also issued with a spare magazine for their pistol due to the murder of two officers at Crescent Head in 1995 when officers carried the Smith & Wesson Model 10 in .38 Special. Specialist tactical units such as the full-time Tactical Operations Unit (and part-time regional State Protection Support Units) are equipped with a variety of specialised firearms for their duties.[37][38]

Equipment and holsters[edit]

In addition to the standard issue firearm, officers are issued with Saflock (mark IV & V) handcuffs, OC (capsicum spray), expandable baton, Motorola XTS3000/XTS5000/XTS2500 (Digital UHF) or Tait Orca (VHF) portable radio, and a first-aid kit. Members have access to a fixed baton and Maglite rechargeable torch, which are usually located in all first response police vehicles for each officer "on the car". There is also access to overt body armour in every vehicle as required. Specialist tactical officers from elite units such as the State Protection Group and riot officers from the Public Order and Riot Squad have access to a variety of specialised weapons and equipment.

The NSW Police Force has issued TASER electronic control devices (ECDs) which generally are carried by one officer on every first response general duties vehicle. TASER is also issued to some specialist squads (e.g. Public Order and Riot Squad, Tactical Operations Unit and State Protection Support Units). Each TASER X26 issued to police includes an integrated camera to record all deployments of the device as well as any additional video while the device's safety is switched off.[39][40] The grip used by police may result in no video footage being available; however, audio footage is still "loud and clear". This is due, for safety reasons, to the grip being the same as that used to hold the glock pistol. [2].

The majority of officers carry their equipment on a leather duty appointment belt. In recent times, there has been a large movement within the police to implement changes in methods of equipment carry to relieve officers with back injuries. This has ranged from trials of lightweight nylon duty belts (such as the shapeshifter "gel belt"), to thigh holsters for firearms and load bearing equipment vests.[41][42] As of 2010, the load-bearing vest has become increasingly prevalent amongst general duty officers and it is anticipated that this trend will continue. It is believed that the vests are effective in relieving officers of chronic back pain, as it takes most of the weight away from the waist and back area, and distributes it across the frontal area of the officer's torso.

Name plates and identification[edit]

Each police officer is issued an identification metal badge with a Warrant Card. Behind the police badge, a member has a coloured plastic backing card which helps identify a member's rank in the force, namely:

light blue – constable & senior constable
dark blue – sergeant & senior sergeant
red – inspector & chief inspector
green – superintendent & chief superintendent
white – assistant commissioner, deputy commissioner & commissioner

This colour-coding also occurs on a member's name plate. For administrative officers of all grades, the colour on their name plates are gold. Administrative officers are not issued with badges; however, civilian forensic staff are issued with warrant cards.


NSW Police Force has the largest government fleet in Australia, with more than 4000 vehicles, on a lease basis. Most LAC response vehicles include but are not limited to (may vary due to location) Toyota Camry, Holden Commodore Omega and Ford Falcon. Toyota's Hilux, Ford Ranger, Holden Rodeo, Hyundai iLoad and VW Transporter are all used as caged vehicles. Specialist vehicles include the Nissan Patrol, Mitsubishi Pajero and Toyota Land Cruiser 4WD for rural and remote areas. Highway Patrol vehicles usually consist of a combination of marked and unmarked Holden SS Commodores and Ford Falcon XR6 Turbos, as well as BMW or Yamaha road motorcycles and trail bikes for off-road duty. Other specialist sections and units use a variety of police vehicles including Toyota Hi-Ace buses, Iveco prisoner vans, Mercedes Sprinter vans, Isuzu trucks, specialist rescue and bomb disposal vehicles, two Lenco BearCat armoured trucks and various Suzuki Jimmy Beach Buggies.

Gallery of police vehicles[edit]

Police Aviation Support Branch[edit]

Aviation Support Group AS 350B Squirrel POLAIR 3.

The Police Aviation Support Branch (Airwing), callsign "POLAIR", is an integral part of the police. It provides services as: search and rescue, support for crime investigation, counter-terrorism, and helps with prevention and detection by keeping a visible presence patrolling the skies.[43]

The current fleet is composed of seven aircraft – five helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft:[44][45][46][47]

Helicopters: Polair 1–5

Fixed-wing aircraft: Polair 6–7

The aircraft are equipped with modern technology and specialist equipment including rescue winches, Nite sun searchlights (30 million candle power), forward-looking infra red (FLIR), high definition video camera system, microwave down-linking of live pictures, digital radio communications and advanced inter-grated touch screen digital glass cockpits with global positioning satellite (GPS) navigation systems.[47]

On 6 June 2011, the Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, announced the incorporation of a new helicopter to the fleet. Referred to as PolAir 4, this is a state-of-the-art, twin-engine Eurocopter EC135 P2+ that is fitted with modern blade technology including a "fenestron" tail-rotor to make aircraft operations quieter over urban areas, and a speed of up to 220 kilometres per hour (140 mph). It is planned that the Eurocopter EC135 design will replace the current single-engine models.[48]

The fixed wing Cessna 206H aircraft, callsign Polair 6,[49] is primarily used for aerial speed enforcement along major freeways and highways in the State.[50][51] It is also used to transport officers and assist with search operations in remote areas of the State.[49]

The much larger Cessna 208 Grand Caravan, callsign Polair 7, provides the police with a long-range heavy lift capability allowing for the transport of cargo, specialist equipment and personnel during extensive search and rescue incidents which is ideal for use in remote locations across the state.[46]

Various other fixed-wing aircraft such as a leased Cessna 500 have been used for major operations including the APEC Australia 2007 security operation.[52] Another was also used during the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.

Marine Area Command[edit]

OPV Nemesis, the largest purpose-built police boat in the Southern Hemisphere

The Marine Area Command, formerly the Water Police, has responsibility for all coastal areas of NSW, and up to 200 nautical miles (370 km; 230 mi) out to sea. Police vessels and personnel are strategically located at important commercial and leisure ports with the base at Balmain on Sydney Harbour. The Command also based at Broken Bay, Newcastle, Port Stephens, Coffs Harbour, Botany Bay, Port Kembla and Eden.[53] It has 123 operational water police, marine intelligence unit, marine crime prevention officer, divers, detectives and the marine operational support team,[54] and employs six civilian engineers and 30 deck hands.[55] The current fleet consists of 11 seagoing craft, including OPV Nemesis, the largest purpose-built police boat in the Southern Hemisphere,[56] and a number of smaller boats.

In January 2013 seven new "class 4" Rigid-hulled inflatable boat watercraft were rolled out across the state to Balmain, Botany Bay and broken Broken Bay. The new 9.5-metre (31 ft) rigid-hulled inflatable boat have two 250 hp four-stroke outboard motors, with a speed of 45 knots (83 km/h; 52 mph) and a range of 200 nautical miles (370 km; 230 mi) at 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph), and are fitted with the latest navigation and communication equipment.[57]


NSW Police Academy, Goulburn[edit]

The New South Wales Police Force Academy at Goulburn

The New South Wales Police Academy (formerly known as the New South Wales Police College) occupies some 10 hectares at McDermott Drive in the regional town of Goulburn, southwest of Sydney. The primary function is to educate and train police officers from the newly recruited to the senior executive level.

Located in the Memorial & Honour Precincts, the Academy has a number of memorials dedicated to the proud traditions of the New South Wales Police Force, namely the Walls of Remembrance at the College Chapel (which feature those who have died on duty on the northern side, and those who have served in war and peacekeeping operations on the southern side); the Rose Garden and Eternal Flame; the NSW Police Force Horse & Dog Memorial; and Heroes' Walk (featuring 15 bravery banners including George Cross, Cross of Valour, Star of Courage and George Medal police recipients).

The latest aspect to the "proud traditions project" was the installation of the NSW Police Academy Peacekeeping display. The display features a range of memorabilia and photographs from peacekeeping missions which NSW Police Force members have contributed to. The display also features the Dag Hammerskjold Medal belonging to the late Sergeant Ian Ward, on loan from the AFP.[58] [59] [60]


The Academy has a constant stream of recruits. On 30 January 2007 the largest class of police recruits, numbering 799, in Australia were attested on the parade ground. In May 2007, a further 284 recruits were attested. Students are identified by a light blue hat band and light blue epaulettes with the word STUDENT (in block capitals) as opposed to rank.[61]


The 'Associate Degree of Policing Practice' is awarded to a graduate of the college by its university provider, Charles Sturt University (CSU).[62]
However, a prospective student can choose to undertake a Bachelor of Justice Studies (Policing) directly with Charles Sturt University on a 'civilian' campus for Session 1 for two years and then move onto the Police College to complete policing oriented subjects (including practical training and experience) before attesting probationary constable.[63]

Alternate entry pathways to police are available. Examples are: the three-year Bachelor of Policing course (offered by the University of Western Sydney, or the Bachelor of Justice Studies (Policing) course of the same length offered also by Charles Sturt University (Bathurst Campus). Both of these courses require the final portion to be completed at the Goulburn Police College, alongside common-entry recruits, for the practical components of policing education.

Charles Sturt University campus[edit]

Charles Sturt University has a campus on the grounds of the Academy. The School of Policing Practice forms part of the Faculty of Arts. The School also offers the Bachelor of Policing and the Bachelor of Policing (Investigations).

Symbols and tradition[edit]

NSW Police Force Banner

Flag of the NSW Police Force

On 29 September 2006, Governor of New South Wales Marie Bashir presented the NSW Police Banner to the New South Wales Police Force at a ceremony adjacent to the NSW Police Force Roll of Honour at the Domain in Sydney, Australia. Later that day, the banner led the NSW Police Force marching contingent at the dedication of the National Police Memorial in Canberra.[64]

Flag and pennants

The Force has an official flag, with the 'Nemesis' logo on a light blue over white bicolour.

The Mounted Police unit carries a swallowtailed navy blue and white pennant on lances, without the nemesis logo.

The commissioner and the VIP cyclists have a nemesis logo on a light blue over white bicolour pennant on their transportation. The pennant is swallowtailed.

Honours and awards[edit]

Recognition for the bravery and sacrifice of members of the New South Wales Police Force is expressed through honours and awards. The New South Wales Police Force was the first Australian Police jurisdiction to have one of its members awarded the Imperial Honour,[citation needed] namely the George Cross and the Australian Honour the Cross of Valour. Sergeant 3rd Class Eric George Bailey GC was awarded the George Cross posthumously on 12 January 1945.

New South Wales Police Force also has the distinction in having one of its members being awarded the highest civilian bravery award, namely the Cross of Valour. In its history, only five people have been awarded that award, with a New South Wales Police Officer being the first Australian Police Officer to receive it. On 3 May 1996, the then Detective Senior Constable Sparkes rescued a boy trapped in a flooded underground storm water drain following record rainfalls at Coffs Harbour.[65]

Australian honours and awards[edit]

New South Wales Police Force Officers are eligible for the following National Honours and Awards:

Internal New South Wales Police honours and awards[edit]

New South Wales Police Force also has a number of inservice Honours and Awards, awarded by the Commissioner of New South Wales Police Force. Commissioner Peter Ryan QPM implemented the New South Wales Police Force Commissioner's Olympic Commendation and the New South Wales Police Force Olympic Citation. This award is significant as the New South Wales Police Force is the only police force in the world to be permitted the Olympic Rings to be attached. It has been widely reported and accepted that the Sydney 2000 Olympics was the "Safest Games in modern Olympic history".[citation needed]

Former commissioner Ken Moroney AO APM implemented the Commissioners Community Service Commendation and Community Service Citation in 2002.

Police honours and awards are highly prized partly because they are only awarded to members in small numbers and are rarely issued to general duties police. The only award that was given out in large numbers was the Commissioner's Olympic Citation due to the massive contribution by all members of the force.[citation needed]

Commendations and medals[edit]

  • New South Wales Police Force Valour Award (VA);
  • New South Wales Police Force Commissioners Commendation (Courage);
  • New South Wales Police Force Commissioners Commendation (Service);
  • New South Wales Police Force Commissioners Olympic Commendation;
  • New South Wales Police Force Commissioners Community Service Commendation;
  • New South Wales Police Force Medal for Diligent and Ethical Service (awarded after 10 years' service, with clasps awarded for every five years thereafter).

The above in-service decorations are worn 5 mm below the officer's name plate and are right-sided decorations.


The following in-service decorations are worn 5 mm above the officer's name plate and are right-sided decorations.

  • New South Wales Police Force Unit Citation (maximum three further awards are indicated by silver stars) – metal device, with silver laurel leaf surround, with light blue enamel centre;
  • New South Wales Police Force Commissioner's Community Service Citation (maximum one further award indicated by one silver star) – metal device, with silver laurel leaf surround, with white enamel centre.
  • New South Wales Police Force Commissioner's Olympic Citation – metal device, with silver laurel leaf surround, with navy blue enamel centre and silver Olympic rings ;
  • New South Wales Police Force Commissioner's Sesquicentenary Citation – metal device, with thin silver surround, with navy blue and light blue striped enamel centre and silver numerals of '1862' '150' '2012' with a depiction of the State of NSW and silitoe tartan.


In peacekeeping operations, officers are seconded to the Australian Federal Police and take an oath or affirmation of the AFP. They are then appointed to the rank of senior sergeant, station sergeant, superintendent or commander. Following their service, UN peacekeeping veterans are awarded the United Nations Medal for their particular mission. In addition, under the Australian system of honours and awards, police officers serving with peacekeeping organisations are awarded the Police Overseas Service Medal with the relevant clasp for the prescribed area of service. As of 2008, two clasps to that medal were awarded to members for operations in Cyprus and East Timor.

Cyprus (UNFICYP)[edit]

Members were among the first Australian police sent to Cyprus in May 1964 as the first UN police contingent. The UN Civilian Police (now known as UNPOL or United Nations Police) was established with a three-month mandate to end hostilities between the Greek and Turkish communities and promote peace on the island. The operation is ongoing.

Members were subsequently withdrawn from Cyprus in 1976, along with all other state and territory police following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus on 20 July 1974. During the invasion and preceding it the Australian police were subject to machine gun and mortar fire and Turkish air attack. Some of their personal motor vehicles, motorcycles and personal items at that time were destroyed, lost or stolen. Fortunately, there was no loss of Australian lives at that time. Australian police continued to negotiate between the invading Turkish army, other warring parties and escorted refugees to safety from both sides.[66] Since UNFICYP commenced, a large number of the NSW Police has served in Cyprus alongside other Australian police jurisdictions.

East Timor (UNTAET and UNMISET)[edit]

From 2000 to 2005, 45 NSW Police Force officers were involved in the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) seconded to the Australian Federal Police for their Tour of Duty in East Timor with the United Nations. There have only been three female NSWP officers to serve.

In addition, two New South Wales Police Force officers have been commended for courage for peacekeeping in East Timor, one by the Australian government, and the Australian Federal Police Commissioners Commendation for Bravery (station sergeant David McCann OAM – UNMISET[67] and one by the commissioner (senior sergeant Mark Aubrey Gilpin – UNTAET). McCann was awarded the Commendation for Brave Conduct for his part in the rescue of 110 vulnerable persons from a village in East Timor after it suffered major flooding. Gilpin was awarded the New South Wales Police Commendation (courage) for his part in protecting a member of the community who was being subjected to mob justice. He placed his body in front of the mob, who were armed with machettes and other weapons and managed to extract the victim to safety.

Out of the ten Australian peacekeepers who have died on peacekeeping missions, two were from NSW Police Force while serving with UNFICYP. Sergeant Ian Ward and Inspector Patrick Hackett died in separate incidents in UNFCYP. A total of 124 soldiers and police gave their lives while serving with the UN in Cyprus.[68]

Staffing numbers[edit]

Due to the growing number of violent attacks in the state in 2006, then president of the New South Wales Police Association, Bob Pritchard, commented on 7 January 2007, that the state is "very short of police and that there is a need to increase the number of police officers throughout the state significantly".[69][70]

See also[edit]

Former units:




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External links[edit]