The AFP IS BORN
The AFP was formed in 1979 based largely on the recommendations made by Sir Robert Mark in his review conducted in 1978. Following that review the AFP was formed under the provisions of the Australian Federal Police Act 1979.
Sir Robert Marks stated:
"Administratively, a police force should be seen to be accountable to government ...Operationally, it should be seen to be as free as possible from political influence...Any operational decision by a police force unduly subject to political interference will never be generally acceptable with consequent impairment of the reputation and status of the force... The ideal relationship is that the Chief Police Officer should pay the closest attention to the views of those whom he is administratively accountable to but that he, and he alone, should make operational decisions".
Sir Robert Marks statement is as relevant today as it was in 1978:
"Those who framed the Constitution can hardly have foreseen the motor vehicle and the aeroplane. Arrangements for the governance of States which were adequate for trade, public order and the social requirements of the nineteenth century are not appropriate for dealing with serious wrongdoing which transcends State jurisdictions and affects the interest of the Commonwealth as a whole; terrorism, narcotics, and organised crime being perhaps the three most obvious examples. In this context, terrorism includes politically motivated shooting, bombing, kidnapping, hijacking or other acts of violence. All such acts, when not politically motivated, should be classified as ordinary crime to be dealt with in the usual way, but never the less requiring the advanced specialist training appropriate for countering all terrorism. There is today an undoubted need for one federal agency to coordinate the efforts of all police forces against interstate crime and terrorism. But in my view it must have a metropolitan territorial base if it is to achieve the status and recognition necessary to its role".
When the Australian Federal Police Bill was presented to parliament, the broad functions of the AFP were prescribed in that Bill. Upon presentation, the then Minister for Administrative Services stated that those functions were:
"In the main they provide for the functions associated with the policing of the Australian Capital Territory, the investigation of offences against the Commonwealth and the protection and safeguarding of the Commonwealth's interests."
It can therefore be seen that as long ago as the formation of the AFP, the government envisaged that the AFP would take in a very wide and varied area of responsibility within the Commonwealth law enforcement and investigative sphere.
Extensive information on the history of the AFP, its current structure and functions can be found on the official web site of the Australian Federal Police.
AFP Community Policing
The city of Canberra is Australia's capital and is located in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), about 320 kilometres south-west of Sydney.
The ACT was created under the auspices of the Australian Constitution, which required the seat of the Federal Government to be in a separate jurisdiction to the then existing states. While the Territory became an entity in 1907, it was not until 1927 that a separate police service was created. The ACT Police Force was created in October of that year, only months after the national Parliament House was opened.
Initially consisting of 11 men who were titled "Peace Officers", the ACT Police Force grew over time to a size of 655 men and women when, in 1979, the organisation was amalgamated with the Commonwealth Police (and subsequently the Narcotics Bureau) to form the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
Also charged with the responsibility to police the interests of the Commonwealth both in Australia and throughout the world, the AFP retained its community policing role in the ACT even after the Territory attained self-government in 1989.
The ACT currently has a population of around 325,000 people and the city of Canberra contains many sites and buildings of national significance such as Parliament, the War Memorial, the National Art Gallery and The National Library of Australia. The Embassies of over 70 nations are also located in the Canberra.
Today around 600 sworn police members supported by an additional number of unsworn staff police the A.C.T.
In addition to its role in policing the Nation's capital city, the AFP also provide community policing services to Jervis Bay, Norfolk Island, Christmas Island and the Cocos Islands.
Staff from both the large ACT Policing arm and the wider AFP are drawn to work in other diverse functions including United Nations peace keeping missions and the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
In the 21st Century, the range of policing functions undertaken by the AFP present opportunities like no other policing service to the prospective police officer.
The Australian Federal Police Association
Australian Federal Police Association (1982 - )
Between 1942 and 1982 the industrial interests of the Commonwealth law enforcement were represented by the Defence Establishments Guard Association (1942-1943), the Peace Officer Guard Association (1943-1958), and the Commonwealth Police Officers' Association (1958-1982). The ACT Police Officers' Association (1933-1979) and subsequently the Federal Police Association (1979-1982) represented the industrial interests of the ACT police until 1982.
In July 1982 the Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) was established following a merger between the Commonwealth Police Officers' Association [CPOA] and the Federal Police Association [FPA]. The impetus for the AFPA was the proclamation of the Australian Federal Police Act on 15 June 1979 that established the Australian Federal Police [AFP]. The AFP was a merger of the Commonwealth police, Narcotics Bureau and the ACT police.
Following the establishment of the AFP the CPOA and the FPA initially operated as separate associations due to their ongoing differences concerning the type of industrial representation members of the newly formed AFP required. However, the amalgamation of the Commonwealth police and the ACT police resulted in executive members of both associations forming a working party to pursue the notion that there should be one police association for all members of the AFP.
In August 1982 the CPOA and FPA officially merged, and the Industrial Registrar gave the CPOA consent to alter its name to the Australian Federal Police Association [AFPA], stating that it was in the public interest to have one industrial association representing all AFP members. As a result, the AFPA became a registered association under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904 (as amended).
In 1998 the AFPA changed its rules in order to establish the Police Federation of Australia, which now incorporates Branches for all State, Territory and Federal Police and is affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions [ACTU]. The PFA is our peak lobbying body on behalf of all Australian Police Associations/unions. The PFA provides additional research & lobbying capacity for the AFPA on an ongoing basis.
The AFPA now operates as a Branch of the Police Federation of Australia. The AFPA has sole autonomous political and industrial coverage for all employees within the AFP which includes sworn Federal Agents; Police Officers; Protective Service Officers; and non sworn support staff deployed nationally and overseas.