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Australian Federal Police
Abbreviation AFP
Australian Federal Police.png
Patch of the Australian Federal Police.
Agency overview
Formed October 19, 1979
Preceding agencies
Employees 6,598 (30 June 2008)[1]
Volunteers Small numbers for non operations related activity.
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 68 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
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 dependant Australian on and offshore Commonwealth Territories.
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. [2]

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.[3]



The AFP was formed on October 19, 1979 under the Australian Federal Police Act 1979[2] after the merging of the former Commonwealth Police and the Australian Capital Territory Police. In November 1979, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics of the Australian Customs Service was transferred to the new agency. [4] In 1984 the Protective Service component of the AFP was separated forming the Australian Protective Service, subsequently that government agency was transferred back to the AFP in 2004.

Roles and functions

The AFP falls 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 is the Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor MP [2]. 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, 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, Hon Bob Debus MP, on 12 October 2007. [5]

The AFP enforces Commonwealth law, 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), Protective Service Officer , Special Member (Special Constable) and Special Protective Service Officer.

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.

Community Policing Role

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 largest community policing element is that provided to the Australian Capital Territory. This arrangement is contractual and is an agreement between the Australian Government and the ACT Government. This AFP portfolio, ACT Policing, reflects the ACT Police history as one of the key components of 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.

A 2005 review of aviation security in Australia led to the streamlining of security at all major Australian airports, the Aviation portfolio was established as a result of the review. Members of State, and the Northern Territory, police agencies are seconded to the AFP to provide policing services at each of the 11 major Australian airports.

The AFP provides community policing within the mainland Jervis Bay Territory, and the three populated external territories of Norfolk Island, Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

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

Uniform Protection Role

AFP providing Uniform Protection outside an Embassy in Canberra, Australia

AFP Uniform Protection provides protective security for the Australian Government at key locations throughout Australia and internationally. Uniform Protection officers perform duties which include static point guarding, bomb appraisals, bomb detection canines, visitor control, alarm monitoring and response, mobile, foot and bicycle patrols, security consultancy services, counter terrorism first response at major and regional Australian airports.

Uniform Protection Officers 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) and at major Australian airports.

International Deployment Group

Since its inception, the AFP has had a long tradition of involvement in international peacekeeping, policing and capacity development. This portfolio of the AFP, the International Deployment Group (IDG), 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 also presently serve with the United Nations in East Timor and Sudan. Previous peacekeeping missions have included Haiti, Mozambique, Thailand, Namibia, South Africa and Somalia.

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, Nauru, Tonga, Vanuatu and Afghanistan.

Commissioners since 1979

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

Period Name
1979 – 1982 Sir Colin Woods, KCVO, CBE, QPM
1983 – 1988 Major-General Ronald Grey, AO, DSO
1988 – 1994 Peter McAulay, AO, QPM
1994 – 2001 Mick Palmer, AO, APM
2 April 2001 – 2 September 2009 Mick Keelty, APM
7 September 2009 – current Tony Negus, APM

Titles and ranks

AFP Commissioner's Order 1 (Administration) states that all Members (Police Officers) are titled Federal Agent, unless undertaking duties in ACT Policing, External Territories, Aviation, International Deployment Group (mission component only), where uniforms are worn.

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

Policing Ranks

Original AFP Ranks Original Broadband Ranks Initial Title & Role Current Title & Role
Constable / 1st Constable / Senior Constable Constable Federal Agent, Team Member Federal Agent, Team Member
Sergeant / Senior Sergeant / Station Sergeant Sergeant Federal Agent, Team Leader Federal Agent, Team Leader
Inspector / Superintendent Superintendent Federal Agent, Coordinator Federal Agent, Coordinator
Commander Commander Federal Agent, Manager Commander, Manager
Assistant Commissioner Assistant Commissioner Federal Agent, National Manager Assistant Commissioner, National Manager
Deputy Commissioner Deputy Commissioner Deputy Commissioner Deputy Commissioner
Commissioner Commissioner Commissioner Commissioner

Protective Service Officer Ranks

Protective Service Officer Rank Internal Title and Role
Protective Service Officer Team member
Senior Protective Service Officer (SPSO) Team Member or Team Leader
Inspector OIC-Station manager

Additional ranks have been adopted throughout the country in the Aviation Portfolio, reflecting the rank held by the seconded State or Territory Police Force Members, such as different levels within the Constable and Sergeant rank, Inspectors and so on.

ACT Policing has a title for Members within the Constable level, Senior Constable, which is a reflection of six years of service as a Member, it does not equate with the Senior Constable terminology used within Section 23WA of the Crimes Act 1914, which refers to Members who are Sergeants. [6]

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

See also


Similar agencies in other Nations





New Zealand



  • National Police Corps




External links


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