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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 19

(Question No. 4441)


Mr Cadman asked the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 21 August 1986:

(1) How many persons have authority to arrest without warrant, someone they reasonably suppose to be a prohibited immigrant under the provisions of s. 38 of the Migration Act.

(2) By what Commonwealth or other Government agency are these persons employed.

(3) How many of these persons are employed by each of the agencies named.

(4) Within his Department, what are the classifications and designations of the officers who have this power to arrest.

(5) What training relevant to this power of arrest is given to these officers.

(6) How many have undergone such training.


Mr Hurford —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Statistics on the number of persons who are authorised to exercise this power are not kept.

(2) The agencies involved are:

(i) the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs;

(ii) the Australian Customs Service;

(iii) the Australian Federal Police;

(iv) the police forces in each Australian State and internal Territory;

(v) the Australian Protective Service, Department of Local Government and Administrative Services;

(vi) the Department of Territories.

Under the provisions of section 38 of the Migration Act, an `officer' may, without warrant, arrest a person who he reasonably supposes to be a prohibited non-citizen. Under section 5 (1) of the Migration Act, `officer' means:

(a) an officer of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs;

(b) a person who is an officer for the purposes of the Customs Act 1901;

(c) a member of the Australian Federal Police or of the police force of a State or an internal Territory; or

(d) any other person who is, or who is included in a class of persons who are, authorised by the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs to exercise that power or to discharge that duty or function.

Persons authorised in relation to part (d) are:

certain specified officers of the Australian Protective Service which provides the custodial staff at Immigration Detention Centres and which provides escorts for persons in immigration custody; and

specified officers who work in the Territory of Christmas Island;

(3) Statistics are not kept on the number of persons employed by each of these agencies who are authorised to exercise these powers.

The authority to make arrests under section 38 in normal circumstances is restricted administratively to about 70 officers of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs whose duties involve enforcement activities connected with illegal immigration.

State Police Officers also exercise these powers occasionally, usually in locations where there is no enforcement staff of my Department. Officers of the other agencies may be called upon to exercise these powers on rare occasions. Examples of the circumstances under which this might occur include: Customers Officers observing a person known or believed to be a stowaway evading authorities by jumping ship; an Australian Protective Service officer re-arresting an illegal immigrant who has escaped from his/her custody while under escort.

(4) In the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, the power to arrest is normally exercised only by field investigation teams which could include officers of the following classifications:

(a) Clerical Administrative Class 7 (Senior Investigation Officer);

(b) Clerical Administrative Class 6 (Investigation Officer);

(c) Clerical Administrative Officer Class 5 (Assistant Investigation Officer).

Officers whose primary functions is to investigate organised immigration malpractice sometimes locate illegal immigrants and, on occasions, make arrests. The classifications of these officers range from Clerical Administrative Class 5 to Clerical Administrative Class 11.

(5) Many of the departmental officers engaged in field investigations and enforcement action against illegal immigrants have a prior background in law enforcement in other agencies.

Training available to officers in relation to the power of arrest include:

a comprehensive manual specifically written for the guidance of field investigation officers, a copy of which is provided individually to every officer engaged in enforcement functions, and is to be studied before starting on field work;

a comprehensive instruction on the use of search warrants, arrests and custody, copies of which are provided individually to every officer engaged in the enforcement functions, similarly to be studied before starting field work;

in-house training which includes a written training program produced especially for the Department and an extensive library of video film;

attendance at relevant sessions of Police training courses from time to time subject to timetables and the agreement of the authorities concerned;

training by police officers, former police officers and other external lecturers at departmental training courses;

on the job training given during field activity under the close supervision of the team leader.

(6) Every officer within the Enforcement and Investigations areas of the Department who could be required to exercise the powers of arrest has undergone some if not all of the processes of training described above.