The Australian Federal Police, or AFP, is an international law enforcement agency tasked with enforcing criminal law within the Commonwealth of Australia and protecting its interests overseas. Formed on 19 October 1979, it merged the former Commonwealth Police, the Australian Capital Territory Police, and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. It is held within the portfolio of the Home Affairs Ministry, with its key priorities being set by the Australian Minister for Home Affairs.
The AFP provides community police services to the Australian Capital Territory, the Jervis Bay Territory, Christmas Island, Norfolk Island, the Cocos Islands, and it maintains an extensive international liaison network, with officers occupying 33 different international posts. Consisting of a workforce of more than 6,500 individuals, the AFP focuses on illicit drug trafficking, human trafficking, fraud against the government, organised crime, money laundering, and high-tech crime. In addition, the AFP prevents, counters, and investigates acts of terrorism. Keeping the peace and preserving public safety are top priorities.
The AFP also maintains a world-renowned Ceremonial Team, which includes the AFP Ceremonial Mounted Cadre and the AFP Pipes and Drums, which perform ceremonial duties at a number of functions and ceremonies. Keep an eye on official AFP websites for each federal division to find out when AFP careers and AFP jobs are available.
State Police – Working for the Australian Federal Police
Each state within the Commonwealth is responsible for maintaining its own police force, as is the Northern Territory. State Police are responsible for maintaining law and order and handling traffic incidents and accidents, as well as for handling crimes. Water Police, Search and Rescue personnel, and anti-terrorism experts are some of the specialists who are employed by various State Police agencies. In some states, local governments employ additional officers called By-Laws Officers to handle matters such as parking, dog ownership, retailing, and other specific laws and ordinances. Many By-Laws police are appointed as Special Constables or have been granted authority by local legislators.
State Police perform many functions on behalf of the Australian government, including enforcement of Commonwealth Acts and Regulations. In sparsely populated areas, they also handle Sheriff’s duties.
Sheriffs and Bailiffs – Working for the Australian Federal Police
Sheriffs and Bailiffs are primarily responsible for recovering court ordered fines; but, sheriffs’ and bailiffs’ duties are not consistent throughout the states. Each state defines specific roles for employees of these departments. In the past, these departments were responsible for managing the gaols and transporting prisoners, acting as coroners, and carrying out executions; today, the departments deal primarily with the court system. Some common duties include:
- Maintaining court security.
- Seizing and selling the property of judgement debtors.
- Enforcing arrest warrants.
- Taking juveniles into custody.
- Handling evictions when necessary.
In some states, Sheriffs are also responsible for enforcing drivers’ licensing laws and auto registration laws, arranging for community service, and making arrests.
Council Rangers – Working for the Australian Federal Police
Often referred to as “Local Laws Officers,” Council Rangers are employed by Local Government Areas to enforce the by-laws of those governments, as well as to enforce certain state laws. Unless they are sworn as Special Constables, Council Rangers do not have full police powers. Often tasked with fire control, emergency management, enforcing off-road vehicle laws and dog ownership laws, their job description varies greatly from one local area to the next.
Other Police Agencies – Working for the Australian Federal Police
A number of other police agencies are tasked with the enforcement of various laws and mandates; some of these agencies include regulatory agencies such as the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS), the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBP), and many others. Defence law enforcement agencies, include the Defence Security Authority (DSA), the Australian Defence Force Investigative Service (ADFIS), and the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police (RACMP).
There you have it – a rundown of the different federal Australian police divisions. If you’re interested in becoming a police officer in Australia, check out How to Become an Australian Police Officer.