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Wednesday, 20 February 1980
Page: 158


Mr Barry Jones (LALOR, VICTORIA) - I must say that I think we all feel moved and warmed by the remarks of the Minister for Defence (Mr Killen). I am glad that he took the opportunity to speak as he did. I agree with him in that I think the Standing Orders Committee ought to make some provision whereby we can pay tribute to distinguished former members of the House.

However, I want to draw the attention of the House to some absurd anomalies in the organisation of the Australian Federal Police. The service has been divided into two categories- a general police component and a police protective service component. The first category has a complement of 1,134 and the second 1,448. I draw attention to a general instruction issued by the Commissioner of Police, Sir Colin Woods, on 12 October 1979. For the benefit of honourable members who will be avid to read it tomorrow, I seek leave to incorporate it in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-

AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE ACT 1979

General Instruction

I, Colin Philip Joseph WOODS, the Commissioner of Police of the Australian Federal Police, hereby issue the following General Instruction in pursuance of paragraph 14 (b) of the Australian Federal Police Act 1 979.

ARREST OF PERSON BY MEMBER OF PROTECTIVE SERVICE COMPONENT

1.   Subject to paragraph 2, where an arrest is made by a member of the protective service component that member shall as soon as practicable-

(a)   deliver the person arrested to:

(i)   if the arrest is for an offence against a law of the Commonwealth, or a law of or in force in the Australian Capital Territory, a member of the general police component;

(ii)   if the arrest is for an offence against a law of a State, or a law of a State having application in relation to a Commonwealth place by virtue of the Commonwealth Places (Application of Laws) Act 1970, a member of the police force of that State;

(iii)   if the arrest is for an offence against a law of the Northern Territory of Australia, a member of the police force of that Territory;

(iv)   if the arrest is for an offence against a law of a Territory other than the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory of Australia, a member of the police force of that Territory or, if there is no such force, a member of the general police component;

(v)   if the arrest is at an Airport for an offence against a law of a State or the Northern Territory of Australia, or a law of a State having application in relation to a Commonwealth place by virtue of the Commonwealth Places (Application of Laws) Act 1970, a member of the general police component who is performing duty in uniform at that Airport or, if there is no such member available, a member of the police force of that State or of that Territory; and

(b)   inform the member to whom the arrested person has been delivered of the facts and circumstances giving rise to the arrest of the person so delivered.

2.   Where it is not practicable for a member within a reasonable time to deliver an arrested person in accordance with paragraph 1 (a) the member shall-

(a)   forthwith notify the Commissioned Officer under whose control, direction or supervision he performs his duties of the facts; and

(b)   comply with that Commissioned Officer's directions.

3.   Where a member of the protective service component delivers an arrested person to a member of the general police component, that member of the general police component shall, forthwith-

(a)   notify the member under whose control, direction or supervision he performs his duty, being a member of or above the rank of Sergeant, of the arrest; or

(b)   in cases where the member referred to in paragraph 3 (a) is not readily available- take complete charge of the case.

4.   Where a member referred to in paragraph 3 (a) has been notified of the arrest, that member shall-

(a)   arrange for a member of the general police component to take complete charge of the case; and

(b)   ensure that the matter is properly finalised.

5.   The member of the general police component taking complete charge of the case shall-

(a)   be responsible for the complete investigation of the case;

(b)   obtain from the member of the protective service component details of the facts and circumstances giving rise to the arrest of the person so delivered;

(c)   unless there are special circumstances rely on the member of the protective service component as a witness only;

(d)   determine whether the facts justify taking action, and, if so, whether a charge or charges should be preferred or summons action taken;

(e)   if action is to be taken- be responsible for the submission of the complete brief of evidence; and

(f)   where he has determined that the facts do not justify taking action- before ceasing duty submit a report to his Officer in Charge setting out full details of the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident.

(g)   where he has determined that the facts do not justify taking action or that summons action should be taken in accordance with paragraph S (d)- forthwith release the arrested person from custody.

6.   'General police component' means the component referred to in sub-section 7 ( 1 ) of the Australian Federal Police Act 1979; and 'protective service component' means the component referred to in sub-section 7 (2) of the Australian Federal Police Act 1979.

Dated this 12th day of October 1979.

Commissioner of Police


Mr Barry Jones (LALOR, VICTORIA) -I thank the House. The procedure set down for the arrest of a person by a member of the protective service component really reads very much like an obstacle race. Members of the protective service component have virtually no more power than their common law right to make a citizen's arrest. The power to arrest is validated only if the protective service officer takes the person he wishes to detain before either a member of the relevant State police or a member of the general police component of the Federal Police.

I can see the problem of wishing to avoid unnecessary jurisdictional disputes between Federal and State police. I also agree that police ought not to be given unlimited powers against citizens. In many ways it is a healthy sign to have their rights and powers set out specifically. But I believe that the regulations are over-complicated and really do create a kind of Keystone Cops situation in which, for example, an experienced sergeant in the protective service is obliged to find a constable of the Federal Police, perhaps the most junior constable on the strength and ask him, in effect, to validate the decision he has taken; to hand the person that he has arrested over to him and say: 'Look, is that all right? Do you, as the most junior policeman in the general police force validate what I as a senior sergeant have decided is the right thing to do?'

It does not take much imagination to think of a situation where, say, at Mascot airport, or Tullamarine airport, or on any Commonwealth property somebody is apprehended by a member of the protective service at 3 o'clock in the morning after there has been a late arrival of an overseas flight. The protective service officer has reason to suspect that there has been a breach of the Customs regulations and the man perhaps pulls a gun on him or perhaps a kilo of white stuff falls out of his pocket and the officer wants to make an arrest. Right, that is terrific! So he makes the arrest but what he then has to say to the person he has arrested is: 'Excuse me, I don't want to hold you up, but is it all right with you if we go and find a member of the general police force and ask him whether it is all right for me to detain you?' That is precisely what the regulations require. It is ludicrous. I will read out what the regulations provide:

. . where an arrest is made by a member of the protective service component that member shall as soon as practicable-

(   a) deliver the person arrested to:

(i)   if the arrest is for an offence against a law of the Commonwealth, or a law of or in force in the Australian Capital Territory-a member of the general police component;

(ii)   if the arrest is for an offence against a law of a State, or a law of a State having application in relation to a Commonwealth place ... a member of the police force of that State;

So in other words he might say: 'Now look, I have a few problems with you. Perhaps you have broken a State law as well. If you have broken a State law we had better see if there's anyone around the joint whom I can hand you over to'. So we have this quite absurd situation. The effect of it has been a very great sense of demoralisation within the members of the general protective service because they say: 'Look, we're only pretend police. We are not really endowed with the ordinary powers of police'. I think that they are in a most unfortunate situation. Of course the reality is that they simply ignore the rule. In practice, they act on the assumption that the person detained does not really know the difference between the two forces and they simply disregard the rule. I believe that the rule ought to be altered and I would like to see the Minister for Administrative Services (Mr McLeay) change the rule to make sure that a reasonable provision is inserted to overcome this absurdity.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order!The honourable member's time has expired.







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