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Overall analysis

The AFP continues its positive results and contribution to Portfolio Budget Statements Program 1.1 and 1.2 outcomes. Figure 3.8 shows the overall throughput of AFP cases for 2019–20. Despite COVID-19 the AFP experienced only a small decrease in throughput this financial year (3,062 in 2019–20 compared to 3,416 in 2018–19). Within the case load, the AFP delivered highlights such as:

  • delivering public value, as seen through positive return on investments
  • successful and diverse enforcement, as seen in case studies showing support for community safety and the workings of the criminal justice system
  • reducing crime through prevention and disruption, as seen in case studies showing the diverse ways the AFP contributes to public safety, often by interrupting criminal activities and bolstering defences using enforcement frameworks and preparatory offences
  • assistance during national emergencies in 2019–2020.

Figure 3.8 Overall AFP cases throughput, 2019–20 A graphic with two filing cabinets and data on the cases on hand at the start of the year, which was 3362 and at the end of the year, which was 3254.

While the AFP performed well this year, it had to contend with major challenges and emergencies. This affected some of the performance criterion calculations and called for the service to alter work arrangements and tasks. For example, officers were called on to escort people into quarantine. They faced unknown health risks and emotional strain if those they were looking after were very ill, but they still ensured their own and the community’s safety through protection functions. Investigations were suspended as officers were re-tasked or could not progress matters due to travel restrictions and physical distancing. In emergencies like the ACT bushfires, some members volunteered to help while others stopped normal duties to be redeployed. The demand for and breadth of AFP activities continued to increase and this financial year morphed into myriad challenges, compounding the busy and complex work of national policing.

Despite overall strong performance, the community confidence target was not achieved. Although there are clear reasons why the target is ambitious, the result shows improvement. The other performance criterion not met was the prosecution brief acceptance rate, which has raised a number of technical calculation challenges. The complexity and individuality of pathways for investigations going before court raises data extraction issues which will require additional work in the coming year.

The ability to develop diverse and complex enforcement, prevention and disruption activities is key to AFP performance. As seen in the case studies, these three factors are often associated and they become part of the policing response, offering more practical tools and allowing tailored solutions.

The strong results in disruption and prevention work are often underpinned by the AFP’s international liaison network, officer training and managerial recognition that some crimes (for example, human trafficking) are at times more effectively addressed using disruption and prevention rather than prosecution. Such decisions are taken in light of stakeholder consultation, the nature of referrals, and outcomes for policing effort.