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Organisational structure

At its broadest level the AFP is organised into six key areas of responsibility:

  • Investigations
  • Operations
  • Specialist and Support Operations
  • Office of the Commissioner
  • Chief Operating Officer
  • Chief Police Officer for the ACT.

Collectively these areas drive strategic initiatives and activities as described in the AFP Corporate Plan 201920. The organisational structure has been developed with a focus on addressing priorities, improving knowledge flow and supporting capability development hubs to create maximum impact on the criminal environment.

Figure 2.3 AFP organisational structure as at 30 June 2020 A diagram showing the Senior Executive of the AFP, with Assistant Commissioners reporting to Deputy Commissioners or the Chief Operating Officer or the Chief Police Officer for the ACT. At the top is the Commissioner, Reece P Kershaw.


The Deputy Commissioner Investigations (DCI) oversees and provides strategic direction for criminal investigations, which includes counter terrorism, countering foreign interference and sensitive investigations. The DCI also oversees the International Network.

Snapshot of achievements

The DCI’s portfolio contributes to operational performance criteria— refer to Results for Outcome 1: Reduced criminal and security threats to Australia’s collective societal and economic interests through cooperative policing services for more details.

Performance highlights


Australia’s INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB), based in Canberra, facilitates and supports Australian law enforcement enquiries to 193 other INTERPOL member countries, and foreign partner enquiries to Australia. Enquiries cover all crime types and a range of operational requirements. Priority is given to life-threatening and community safety matters. In 2019–20, INTERPOL NCB Canberra actioned over 500 threat-to-life and next-of-kin notifications.

Of all the Australian requests sent overseas, approximately 65 per cent were for state and territory police in relation to intelligence, investigative, identification, court and other operational matters. The remaining enquiries were made internationally for more than 22 AFP teams and at least 20 other Commonwealth and local agencies. The top five crime types for enquiries were fraud, drugs, assaults, sexual offences and homicides. These requests are often complex and require careful law enforcement consideration of cultural and legal differences and impacts (such as the death penalty), compliance with jurisdictional legislation and INTERPOL rules, analysis of multiple databases, and ongoing interaction with domestic and foreign partners.

NCB Canberra is also the EUROPOL National Contact Point for Australia. It manages intelligence enquiries for Australia’s state and territory police and Home Affairs portfolio agencies to and from EUROPOL and member countries across a range of priority crime types.

The AFP maintains officers seconded to INTERPOL and EUROPOL headquarters to support and progress international collaboration and operational effectiveness.

AFP Sensitive Investigations Oversight Board

On 21 October 2019, Commissioner Kershaw announced the engagement of Mr John Lawler AM APM to conduct a review, under four terms of reference, of AFP management of sensitive investigations, to ensure efficient and effective handling of those investigations by the AFP.

On 14 February 2020, the report of the Review into the AFP’s Response to and Management of Sensitive Investigations (Lawler Review) was publicly released. It set out 24 options designed to enhance the way the AFP receives, identifies and manages sensitive investigations. The Commissioner agreed in principle to implement all of these options.

As a result of the Lawler Review, the AFP has adopted a new definition of sensitive investigation. This allows the AFP to escalate investigations identified as requiring additional supervisory and senior executive oversight and decision-making. Another new measure implemented in response to the review is the establishment of the Sensitive Investigations Oversight Board (SIOB), chaired by the Deputy Commissioner Investigations. The SIOB oversees the most sensitive investigations, which are deemed to require additional oversight.

As part of its commitment to continually improving how it communicates with stakeholders, the AFP is ceasing to use certain investigative terminology that creates ambiguity. The term ‘referral’ has been replaced with ‘report’ and ‘request’. The words ‘evaluation’ and ‘assessment’ will cease to be used. The AFP is also focusing on considerations of harm, impact, efficiency and opportunity when prioritising investigative activity.

Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce

The AFP has made significant progress since the commencement of the initial funding and the establishment of the Office of the National Foreign Interference Coordinator. This includes the establishment of both capability and capacity in response to espionage and foreign interference legislation and in accordance with the government’s strategic intent of target hardening the Australian environment to hostile foreign actors.

The AFP has established dedicated teams in Canberra, Eastern and Southern Commands to give full effect to the espionage and foreign interference legislation and in support of the whole-of-government intent.

High-risk terrorist offenders

Operational demands on the AFP and its partners have increased due to the requirement to manage and monitor the reintegration of convicted high-risk terrorist offenders into the community upon their release from prison.

Over a four-month period in 2020, five men were released from custody following their imprisonment for foreign incursions offences. In the lead-up to completing their head sentences, the threat posed by each individual was assessed by the AFP and its law enforcement and intelligence partners, and appropriate risk mitigation strategies were developed. This included the AFP and state and territory agencies contributing to Continuing Detention Order considerations by the Department of Home Affairs, as well as concurrent efforts to develop Control Orders for each person. This required ongoing complex planning involving multiple jurisdictions, further compounded by the relocation of one man to a third jurisdiction several days after his release.

The Federal Court granted interim or confirmed Control Orders for each of the five men. The AFP engages with its state and territory partners to monitor compliance with Control Orders, including by executing monitoring warrants and enforcement aspects of the orders, as the risk to the community posed by released offenders is a shared responsibility for all entities that maintain community safety.

Operation Silves: brothers sentenced to 36 and 40 years imprisonment

In July 2017, the AFP led a multi-agency counter terrorism investigation in Sydney relating to an alleged attempted attack involving a plot to conceal an explosive device on an Australian commercial aircraft.

The successful operation was a New South Wales Joint Counter Terrorism Team investigation, which consists of the AFP, the NSW Police Force, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the New South Wales Crime Commission. The operation involved the Australian Border Force and foreign law enforcement partners as well as sworn officers and professional staff members from across the AFP.

Two brothers were charged with serious offences that carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. In December 2019, the two brothers were sentenced to 36 years and 40 years imprisonment for conspiracy to commit other acts done in preparation for, or planning, terrorist acts.


The Deputy Commissioner Operations (DCO) oversees the AFP’s regional commands, which provide frontline resources in each capital city of Australia and work closely with our state and territory counterparts and capability development hubs. The regional commands are structured in four groups: Eastern Command, Southern Command, Western Central Command and Northern Command. The DCO is also responsible for the AFP’s specialist protective services for Commonwealth infrastructure, designated high office holders, dignitaries and witnesses.

Snapshot of achievements

The DCO’s portfolio contributes to operational performance criteria—refer to Results for Outcome 1: Reduced criminal and security threats to Australia’s collective societal and economic interests through cooperative policing services for more details.

Performance highlights

Aviation security enhancement program rolls out the Protection Operations Response Teams

The AFP’s $107 million Aviation Security Enhancement Program (ASEP) is building 17 Protection Operations Response Teams (PORTs) over a four-year implementation period from 1 July 2018 to 1 July 2022. These teams will be based at Australia’s nine designated airports. They are supported by enhancements to aviation-focused intelligence, forensics and training capabilities, and additional police to supplement the counter-terrorist first response capability already provided by the AFP. To date, there are PORTs active in the Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Canberra and Perth Airports as part of the ASEP.

The role of the PORTs is to detect, deter and, in the worst case, minimise the impact of a terrorist incident at one of Australia’s nine designated airports. PORT members are trained in the use and carriage of short-barrel rifles (SBRs), behavioural assessment, hostile reconnaissance detection and incident management. The teams include rapid appraisal officers and canine handlers with firearm and explosives detection dogs, and together they provide a highly visible deterrent for those intent on committing acts of terrorism or criminality.

As part of the PORT capability, the Protection Operations SBR Project and associated working group were launched in December 2019. The working group coordinates the SBR capability across AFP Aviation, Protection, and Close Personal Protection (CPP) and is responsible for delivering SBR-related training, governance, procurements, logistics and infrastructure upgrades, operational support, stakeholder communications, and research and development. Over the last six months, the working group has achieved significant results, including:

  • training 67 members across the AFP
  • helping to maintain the SBR capability at Parliament House
  • delivering armoury upgrades across Aviation and Protection and identifying alternative ballistic options designed specifically for SBR operators.

The combination of equipment, training and recruitment activities provides the AFP with both new and enhanced capability that keeps the travelling public and PORT members safe. In the event of a critical situation, teams have a use of force option that can be deployed effectively from a distance. The capability augments the existing airport uniformed police with teams working together to protect Australian airports.

Operation Regatta

Operation Regatta, led by the AFP’s Brisbane Fraud and Anti-Corruption team, has charged a man with foreign bribery conspiracy offences after a detailed five-year investigation that revealed the alleged bribery of public officials in Nauru.

The operation centred on claims that the Australian director of the Radiance International group of companies was using an international network of contacts to bribe foreign public officials in Nauru. The bribes were allegedly paid to obtain access to the island nation’s limited phosphate resources and export phosphate internationally for profitable margins.

In February 2020, the man pleaded guilty to two offences of causing bribes, totalling AU$129,500. He will be sentenced on 30 July 2020. The maximum penalty for each of the offences is 10 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of 10,000 penalty units, equivalent to AU$1.8 million at the time of the offences.

Operation Bowmore Aqua

Western Central Command has a strong focus on innovative disruption techniques combating emerging fraud relating to COVID-19 stimulus response packages. Recent Taskforce Iris investigations into superannuation fraud have uncovered ongoing criminal activity by syndicates both domestically and offshore.

Operation Bowmore Aqua is a Taskforce Iris investigation into organised cyber-enabled crime associated with the federal government’s COVID-19 early release of superannuation economic stimulus measure. While the matter is still under investigation, 107 victims have been identified and the value of the fraud is estimated to exceed $1 million. The AFP has undertaken proceeds of crime recovery action, restraining 166 false name bank accounts with funds totalling $226,044. A further 98 bank accounts have been identified as being held in false names or otherwise linked to the offending.

ThinkUKnow 2020 program and protecting children through COVID-19

The AFP’s ThinkUKnow education program aims to reduce the impact and incidence of online child sexual exploitation in Australia. The annual program update of ThinkUKnow was launched in February 2020, coinciding with the release of Australia-first research from the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) on community awareness of online child sexual exploitation. The research found that only 21 per cent of parents and carers think there is a likelihood that online sexual exploitation can happen to their child. The research also showed that the issue of online child sexual exploitation remains stigmatised, with 21 per cent of parents and carers feeling that is too repulsive or sickening to think about.

In response to the research findings, the targeted ThinkUKnow education program was redeveloped for parents, carers, teachers and students. The launch of the updated program also marked the beginning of the ThinkUKnow national training rollout, when members began to deliver training nationally to more than 400 law enforcement and industry presenters. The rollout, an essential part of the program, is providing volunteers and presenters with the updated ThinkUKnow presentation package, which draws on ACCCE research and reporting.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the rollout being paused in March 2020. In response to this, the AFP launched new at-home learning activity packs for parents and carers to address the challenges associated with children spending an increasing amount of time online. Supported by real case studies from the ACCCE Child Protection Triage Unit, the age-appropriate activities addressed online supervision, personal information and inappropriate contact, safer gaming, smart usernames, and safer online interactions.

A sample page from the ThinkUKnow home learning activity pack with a quiz.
Part of the home learning activity pack

The activity packs are part of a range of measures developed by the AFP and ACCCE to address increasing risk factors for online child sexual exploitation during Australia’s response to COVID-19. Other measures include:

  • reaching parents, carers and teachers through targeted ThinkUKnow digital education
  • sharing and supporting key partner agencies’ social media content and messaging
  • engaging with ACCCE operations and intelligence to identify and respond to current trends
  • a seven-day online safety challenge launched on 27 April 2020 by the Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Peter Dutton MP, across various social media platforms. Social media content promoting the challenge was viewed more than 2.3 million times during the seven-day period and had a combined engagement of more than 130,000 comments, reactions and shares.

Specialist and Support Operations

The Deputy Commissioner Specialist and Support Operations oversees the close operational support provided to frontline police. This includes training and development, intelligence services, forensics, and technical and technological capabilities.

Snapshot of achievements

  • Counter-drone technology was deployed at nine major events, with three disruptions and six referrals to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority for further investigation
  • Detection dog assistance provided to AFP investigations enabled the seizure of AU$2.39 million in currency, 24.8 kilograms of drugs, and 19 stashes of explosives, firearms and ammunition
  • The AFP mobile application Mobile Responder has reduced demand on AFP radio networks by almost 1.9 million transmissions.

Performance highlights

Police Improvement Initiative

The Police Improvement Initiative (PII) was established as a key part of achieving the Commissioner’s priority to reduce red tape in order to deliver maximum operational impact to the criminal environment. In February and March 2020, AFP members attended workshops held across the commands in Australia, where they identified and discussed opportunities to improve the AFP and its processes. These members represented police, protective service officers and unsworn staff from a variety of ranks in the organisation, in order to accurately capture the issues that people face in their day-to-day work.

Key themes that emerged from the workshops and subsequently became PII focus areas were:

  • streamlining and simplifying delegations, authorisations and processes
  • digitisation and automation of processes
  • improving access to services and information via the official AFP iPhone.

Since the PII began, 61 initiatives have been actioned. Of these, as at 30 June 2020, 47 per cent were complete, 44 per cent were in progress and 9 per cent were under assessment. Quick wins have been delivered, directly reducing the time employees spend on administrative tasks and allowing them to focus on operational priorities.

PROMIS mobile supporting frontline policing

Built by the AFP for the AFP, PROMIS Mobile is now in its third year of operation and has seen continued growth in both users and usage. An application of the AFP’s Police Real-time On-line Management Information System, PROMIS Mobile gives operational members self-service capability in the field. The AFP is now using PROMIS Mobile to conduct more than 18,000 person, vehicle and location checks in the field monthly, with 10 per cent average monthly growth in usage. In an operational capacity, this allows officers to conduct immediate checks, enabling queries and cases to be solved more efficiently. Officers are conducting searches in the field rather than having to return to the station to conduct them, which means they are equipped with the most up-to-date information and warnings about people, vehicles and locations. Real-time information searches improve officer safety in the field and free up airtime on the secure radio networks for priority 1 urgent communications. As a result, more officers can be on the road, policing for a safer community.

In 2019–20 the AFP made a number of significant upgrades to PROMIS Mobile. These include enabling users to view documents, border alerts and new notification feeds. The upgrades further support frontline officers by increasing their situational awareness and access to information when responding to an incident.

Operation Natone: support for New Zealand following the White Island volcano disaster

On 9 December 2019, 47 people, including 24 Australian citizens and four permanent residents, were on White Island, New Zealand, when a volcanic eruption occurred. In support of the Australian Government’s offer of assistance, a team of six AFP members, a NSW Police Force member and a Queensland Police Service member deployed to New Zealand to assist with disaster victim identification and family investigative liaison officer efforts.

The forward-deployed members were supported by dozens of staff in an incident coordination centre for Operation Natone, Australia’s support to New Zealand Police in response to the White Island eruption.

The AFP’s specialist contribution supported the government’s objective to identify all recovered deceased Australian victims. The team worked closely with all partner agencies, including via the Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency’s Disaster Victim Identification Committee. This committee played a critical role in drawing together law enforcement partners and state coroners to achieve the outcomes of the operation.

Deployed members worked closely with New Zealand Police to support the collection of ante-mortem material from Australian families. These samples were sent to the AFP’s Majura forensics facility in Canberra, where the Forensics Operations Centre coordinated and prioritised analysis.

Despite the conditions and volatile environment, all injured Australians were repatriated to Australia and all recovered deceased Australian victims were identified within seven days of the incident.

AFP Chief Forensic Scientist and Operation Natone Operations Manager Dr Sarah Benson said:

As we know in these types of incidents we cannot undo the tragedy nor the pain and trauma that the families are experiencing but we can ease the pain and provide support to the families by respectfully restoring the victim’s identity and returning them to their loved ones. Each and every task, role or function AFP members performed in support of Operation Natone contributed to achieving this.

K9 rises to the detection challenge

A picture of a uniformed police officer searching a small suitcase.
Searching luggage post-detection

On 13 June 2020 the AFP received intelligence that an unknown person was going to transit the Brisbane Domestic Airport with an unknown quantity of currency from a current inbound flight.

Members of the AFP, accompanied by a cash and firearms detection canine, attended the flight arrival and used the canine to screen passengers as they disembarked. Alerted by the canine’s changed behaviour in relation to a passenger, the handler referred the traveller to other police officers for questioning. During that questioning the person of interest stated that he had a large sum of money in his wallet. During further questioning he indicated that he had more money in his suitcase, inside a present, but did not state how much.

The canine then conducted a sweep of the person’s luggage and sat, indicating that it had detected a known odour, in this case currency. AFP members searched the bag and found a gift bag containing a parcel, which they unwrapped. Inside were two cryovac bags, each containing approximately $50,000—totalling almost $100,000—cash. The person subsequently assisted police with their inquiries.

Office of the Commissioner

The Office of the Commissioner provides executive support functions, focusing on policy and engagement with a wide range of stakeholders including the community and government mechanisms. It also incorporates strategy and performance, the AFP’s integrity framework and the AFP’s recognition and ceremonial functions, as well as overseeing the Criminal Assets Confiscation Command, which investigates criminal assets confiscation matters with Commonwealth partners.

Performance highlights

40th anniversary of the AFP

Throughout the year a diverse array of events took place to commemorate the AFP’s 40th anniversary, enabling us to reflect on how our history has shaped us and will continue to shape us into the future. Acknowledging our past, recognising our achievements and reflecting on lessons learned has made us who we are today.

The 2019 AFP Legacy Charity Ball on 19 October, attended by almost 500 people, saw not only a night of dining and dancing but also, more significantly, three members presented with the 40 Year Clasp to the AFP Service Medal. These members were on duty on 19 October 1979 when the AFP first commenced operations. Held in the Great Hall of Parliament House in Canberra, the commemorative ball was a chance to reflect on the organisation’s achievements over the past 40 years, and included a video message of congratulations from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and an address by the AFP Commissioner.

A picture of two uniformed police officers, cutting decorated cakes.
The longest-serving and shortest-serving AFP members celebrate the 40th anniversary

Other celebratory events included the ‘Stitched Up’ quilting project led by the AFP Museum. Launched in November 2018, the quilt project tells the story of the ‘fabric’ of the AFP, with each patch on the quilts representing functions, investigations, operations or milestones the AFP has achieved in its 40-year history.

Morning teas, historical displays, commemorative photos and reunions were held across the country reflecting on the last 40 years of the AFP and looking forward to another 40.

Structure and operating mode review

In 2019–20 the AFP commissioned Ernst & Young to review the structure and operating model of the agency to better align with the AFP’s purpose, priorities and stakeholder expectations. The Commissioner accepted all of the review’s recommendations in principle, and they have led to a number of organisational changes throughout the year.

Significantly, the AFP has shifted to a regionalised command structure, and we are developing capability hubs across the country. We have established the National Operations State Services Centre and the Strategy and Performance Office, as well as creating the Chief Learning Officer portfolio. Importantly, the review has helped define our organisational identity across national and international policing, community policing in the ACT, and specialist protective services.

Successful forfeiture of drug trafficking and money laundering linked assets

In August 2019 the AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) obtained orders in the Supreme Court of New South Wales forfeiting assets valued at approximately $5 million to the Commonwealth. This marked the end of a successful investigation and was a significant litigation outcome for the CACT, utilising powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth) to target property held in Australia and offshore derived from serious criminal activity.

Operation Azoic, which produced this result, was an investigation of a drug trafficking and money laundering operation of a dual national. The operation was referred to the CACT, which led to the identification of assets including two properties in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, luxury vehicles, numerous Australian and offshore bank accounts and a sizeable share portfolio.

The target of the operation used sophisticated means to obscure his illegally acquired wealth, including offshore bank accounts and false name identities in which he held his assets. CACT investigators traced money flows and assets to identify the proceeds of the offending and to tie assets held in false names to the offender.

The CACT obtained restraining orders over the property in 2015. Search warrants were executed and the person of interest was subsequently arrested and charged with multiple state and Commonwealth offences. In 2017, he pleaded guilty to drug and money laundering offences and was sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment.

Despite the guilty plea and the significant sentence imposed, the offender and his family members still sought to challenge the Commissioner’s forfeiture orders, actively pursuing compensation and exclusion orders relying on overseas evidence. The CACT successfully tested and challenged this evidence through mutual assistance channels and with support from the Attorney-General’s Department and offshore partners.

Ultimately the CACT was successful in ensuring that all of the property of the offender was forfeited to the Commonwealth. The Court also ordered payment of the Commissioner’s legal costs.

Criminal Asset Confiscation Taskforce National Disability Insurance Scheme investigation and forfeiture

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Fraud Taskforce was established in July 2018 to investigate suspected criminal activity targeting the scheme. The taskforce is a multi-agency partnership between the National Disability Insurance Agency, Services Australia and the AFP.

In December 2018 the taskforce commenced an investigation into the alleged fraudulent activity against the scheme by a linked group of NDIS providers. The providers offered nursing, cleaning, transport and home renovation services, variously lodging over-inflated invoices for their services or not delivering the services at all.

A picture of a silver Porsche SUV.
The forfeited Porsche

In May 2019, a number of members of an organised crime syndicate linked to this fraudulent activity were arrested. In March 2020, two members of the syndicate pleaded guilty to defrauding the NDIS. The following month, the AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce, having earlier restrained numerous assets bought by the two syndicate members with the proceeds of their fraud, successfully obtained orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth) resulting in the forfeiture to the Commonwealth of a Porsche, a Mercedes-Benz and a Goulburn property.

Criminal Code and Crimes Act amended on child exploitation

The Combatting Child Sexual Exploitation Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 was passed in September 2019, with the final schedules commencing in March 2020. It amends the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) and the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) to implement a number of recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to enhance protection of children, increase reporting obligations and strengthen criminal offences concerning child abuse material.

These amendments modernise legislation to ensure it is comprehensive, technology neutral and future focused. This includes addressing new and emerging technologies and trends, including child-like sex dolls, which desensitise offenders and may lead to an escalation in offending. In January 2020, a 30-year-old man was the first person in South Australia charged for possession of a child-like sex doll under the new laws. The AFP and South Australia Police seized children’s clothing—including school uniforms, swimwear and underwear—and a computer. The man faces a 15-year jail term if convicted.

Chief Operating Officer

The Chief Operating Officer manages the corporate functions of the AFP. This includes financial management, human resources and legal services.

Snapshot of achievements

  • Commenced work on a new state-of-the-art facility to serve as the new Victorian office
  • Delivered mental readiness training to more than 1,600 AFP appointees, providing tools to help them cope with stress and improve their mental health and resilience
  • Created the learning command, demonstrating the AFP’s commitment to and focus on learning, training and development.

Performance highlights

Launch of AFP Reserve

A picture of the AFP Commissioner in uniform, standing in front of flags in a room.
AFP Commissioner Reece P Kershaw welcoming Reservists
A need for a surge capacity across the country as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened saw the launch and rise of the AFP Reserve capability—former AFP members providing invaluable assistance to boost and enhance the AFP effort.

The AFP Reserve provides for a sustainable, adaptive and flexible police reserve capability. Sworn members, protective service officers and unsworn members have registered to be part of the Reservist pool and may be deployed across a range of duties on a casual basis.

Reservists bring with them an average of 30 years’ AFP experience across international, national, and state policing. They build on existing capability and provide support by assisting in matters that require a depth of knowledge, in addition to providing a surge capacity where required to quickly meet changes in the operating environment. This additional support to the AFP will ensure business continuity and appropriate law enforcement presence in the community while continuing to fulfil government obligations. AFP Reservists benefit from being re-engaged within the organisation, providing them with the opportunity to serve their community.

The implementation of the AFP Reserve is being undertaken in a phased approach, with the first commencing in April 2020. It is anticipated a pool of 200 AFP Reservists will be established by the end of the 2020 calendar year.

As of 30 June 2020, the AFP Reserve pool was made up of 26 sworn members, six protective service officers and 20 unsworn members. Twenty-two members have been placed in positions across various work areas and locations including ACT Policing, Eastern Command, Crime Command, Western Central Command, learning and development, International Command and Specialist Protection Command.

Taskforce Horizon

Taskforce Horizon is a strategic initiative to reshape and relocate the workforce in support of newly established regional commands to increase the support of frontline investigations. Taskforce Horizon delivers on the AFP Strategy for 2020 and Beyond to support and enable our people to deliver maximum impact to the criminal environment.

From May 2020, Taskforce Horizon began rebalancing the AFP workforce. The primary objective is to increase the AFP’s frontline investigative capacity and capability, commencing with Eastern Command (Sydney) and Southern Command (Melbourne), which remain focal points for organised crime, child exploitation and terrorism.

As part of the activities underway, Taskforce Horizon will address diversity and inclusion to ensure we reflect our community. This will support us in delivering superior performance and meeting community expectations of a modern police force.

AFP and partners facilitate shipment of 1.9 million protective face masks

The AFP and key partners have successfully facilitated the delivery of more than 1.9 million surgical face masks into Australia to help protect the AFP and related agencies against COVID-19.

The AFP purchased 1 million of these face masks for use by AFP officers in frontline roles protecting the community, including airport uniformed police and officers in ACT Policing. The other 962,000 masks in the shipment were purchased by the NSW Police Force, the Queensland Police Service, the Western Australia Police Force and two state rural fire services to complement existing stocks for their officers working to protect local communities.

Acting Chief Financial Officer Tarnya Gersbach described this as a prime example of how law enforcement links with industry can directly benefit the Australian community:

The AFP has made this supply chain available to other policing, health and emergency-response agencies across Australia, meaning they can ensure future imports of these essential products, certified by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, directly from the source at fair market rates.

A major concern for all government agencies is the possibility of black-market or counterfeit goods making their way to our essential frontline workers. The continuation of these supply arrangements means all agencies involved can be confident that those working hard to protect our community are getting the best protection we can provide.

Chief Police Officer for the ACT

The Chief Police Officer (CPO) for the ACT oversees the community policing services arm of the AFP. Through a purchase agreement between the AFP and the ACT Government, ACT Policing is responsible for providing a high-quality community policing service. ACT Policing’s mission is to keep the peace and preserve public safety. In 2019–20, the CPO role was elevated to Senior Executive Service Band 3 to be commensurate with equivalent roles in state and territory police forces.

Snapshot of achievements

ACT Policing:

  • made 4,336 arrests
  • attended 2,811 family violence incidents
  • responded to 39,559 incidents
  • made 6,090 referrals to community support agencies.

Performance Highlights

Body-worn cameras

With an investment of $2.695 million from the ACT Government, ACT Policing has now issued body‑worn cameras to 483 members and delivered training in using them. Body-worn cameras are a critical investigation tool, creating an objective record of events, notable incidents and interactions ACT Policing members have in the community.

Body-worn cameras assist with the collection of factual evidence and can reduce investigation times; provide live-streaming of a crime scene to other investigating officers contemporaneously with victims without exposing victims to the crime scene; and have had a notable effect of reducing behavioural escalations when officers are speaking with possible offenders who know they are being recorded.

Largest coordinated drug interception operation for ACT Policing

An ACT Policing led joint operation involving the NSW Police Force, the AFP and the Australian Border Force identified a sophisticated concealment of cocaine inside an excavator shipped from South Africa in mid-2019.

The excavator was intercepted at Port Botany (NSW) where an X-ray examination and physical inspection of the excavator revealed the concealment of 384 one-kilogram packages of cocaine, with an estimated drug harm index (refer to Results for Outcome 1: Reduced criminal and security threats to Australia’s collective societal and economic interests through cooperative policing services for more details) value of $252 million. The seizure is the largest ever drug interception operation coordinated by ACT Policing, with the assistance of partner agencies.

Following a controlled delivery of the excavator in July 2019, two men were arrested by investigators and charged with drug importation offences. The collaborative efforts of ACT Policing and other law enforcement agencies resulted in a record amount of cocaine being removed from our streets and a significant amount of harm to the community prevented.

ACT Policing transitioning to a new model of police service

In May 2019 the ACT Government announced the investment of $33.9 million over the next four years, including more than 60 new ACT Policing personnel, to enable ACT Policing to commence transitioning to a more visible, proactive and connected police service. Under the ACT Policing Futures Program, ACT Policing is evolving in line with population growth and community expectations by transitioning from a response-focused model to a more proactive, community-focused policing service, centred on the disruption and prevention of crime. In working towards this model, the ACT Policing Futures Program has been maintaining a focus on key process improvements and projects to reduce red tape while supporting the front line.

Since July 2019, ACT Policing has established the foundation for the new model. This includes commencing key project work such as the first stages of piloting new operational intelligence capabilities, introducing new technologies, and recruiting and training the first of its new Proactive Policing teams.

Working closely with ACT Government and community service partners, the Proactive Policing teams will employ a variety of problem-solving techniques to reduce repeat calls for service and assist the most vulnerable members of the ACT community. The first Proactive Policing team is scheduled to start operating in 2020–21.

Enhanced partnerships through PACER

Understanding the importance of partnering with other agencies to achieve the best results for the ACT community, in December 2019, ACT Policing, the ACT Ambulance Service and ACT Health launched a tri-service mental health proof-of-concept capability, the PACER (Police, Ambulance and Clinician Early Response) program.

Responding to mental health incidents is one of the most common tasks police perform, equating to about 10 per cent of service demand. Where police would traditionally be the first responders to a mental health call-out, the PACER capability provides a more holistic mental health response consisting of a paramedic, a clinician and a police officer working together to attend call-outs requiring a specialist mental health response.

PACER has been successful in keeping vulnerable people away from the hospital environment and in the community, while saving a significant number of response hours for frontline services.

During the first 17 weeks1 of the proof-of-concept period, PACER:

  • responded to approximately 300 cases
  • was the first responder in 47.5 per cent of these cases
  • enabled 81 per cent of patients treated to remain in the community rather than being admitted to hospital.

The proof-of-concept has so far proven to be a success, resulting in mental health incidents being dealt with in the most effective and efficient way possible through strong partnerships between frontline services. PACER is seeing fewer involuntary apprehensions and presentations to hospital and an increase in the number of people getting the help they need on the front line. PACER’s proof-of-concept has been extended to continue through to November 2020.


  1. From 12 December 2019 to 5 April 2020, including 68 shifts.