28 November 2022

ACT to pay $800 million for four years of AFP-contracted police services

| Lottie Twyford
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The ACT Government will pay the Commonwealth $17 million a month for police services over the next four years. Photo: Region.

The ACT Government has signed an $800 million agreement with the Australian Federal Police for it to deliver community police services over the next four years.

Unlike in other jurisdictions, the ACT does not provide its own independent police force. Instead, officers are contracted from the AFP.

Over the next four years, the ACT will pay around $17 million every month for policing.

That’s an increase on the last financial year’s (2021-22) appropriation in which the Government paid almost $15 million to the AFP every month.

Police Minister Mick Gentleman announced the signing of the new agreement last Friday (25 November). Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Police Minister Mick Gentleman announced the new agreement on Friday (25 November), saying it meant Canberrans would benefit from the skills and resources of the most sophisticated police force in the country.

“As part of the agreement process, we have also set out a range of shared priorities. These include reducing the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system, improving sexual assault prevention and responses, countering terrorism and violent extremism, and combatting dangerous driving,” he said.

“ACT Policing and the AFP have also committed to working together on the service delivery changes in raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility.”

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Those comments were echoed by Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Reece Kershaw.

“The residents of the ACT benefit from the combined support of the entire AFP – as we saw earlier this year when AFP officers from across Australia assisted with significant protest activity here in Canberra,” he said.

“The AFP in turn benefits from the unique skills and experience that officers from community policing provide.”

Part of the new agreement will require the Chief Police Officer to write a statement of intent to set out the “strategies and plans” ACT Policing will put in place to address the Government’s priorities.

The agreement doesn’t specifically identify whether the increase in funding will go towards increasing the number of police in the ACT, although Police Minister Mick Gentleman has been contacted for comment on this.

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That’s something the Opposition and police union have long been calling for, arguing the police force had not grown in line with the city’s population.

According to the Productivity Commission’s latest dataset, the number of operational police per 100,000 people in 2021 was the lowest in the country (219) in the Territory. Non-operational staff figures were the fourth-highest, however.

An announcement last year from ACT Police that it would no longer be responding in person to every report of property crime only served to add fuel to the fire of those who believe there just aren’t enough police on the beat.

In public hearings being conducted as part of an ongoing dangerous driving inquiry, Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan last month said resourcing issues meant it wasn’t possible for police to respond to every report of street racing – particularly on rural roads.

“There are thousands and thousands of kilometres of roads in the Territory and we can’t be everywhere at all times,” he said.

Nonetheless, he encouraged people to keep reporting it.

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The ACT Police haven’t had an RBT setup since May 2020. 40% of all two maned police cars are probationary Constable’s who cannot exceed the speed limit. What we have in the ACT is a vastly inferior police presence than in any other state or territory.

I must have been in a different Canberra when I went through an RBT on Commonwealth bridge a month ago.

“40% of all two maned police cars are probationary Constable’s who cannot exceed the speed limit.”

Unless it’s been changed, Probationary Constables have the same powers as fully fledged Constables.

No commitments on domestic violence responses? Of course not. Police avoid this where they can, many of them not seeing it as part of their job, even though it is their responsibility to protect people from violence.

How could they better their response? Not a rhetorical question, Family Violence matters are a failure across Australia. What is the silver bullet that can be introduced? Tougher sentencing, changes to the family violence act or bail act? Or is it really a matter where it needs to start young as a prevention method?

Better training would be a good start, as well as recognition that this is a very important part of their job, rather than a nuisance that they would prefer to ignore.

Good domestic violence responses do occur by those who understand the issues and have been properly trained to de-escalate the situation and listen to all parties.

Good responses keep people alive as well as protecting the children who are damaged for life by what they experience. This work is vital to our communities and families.

Good views, but not something that I think could be adequately addressed in a purchase agreement though?

William Newby9:31 pm 29 Nov 22

That seems to be an awfully large sum of money for the 3 police officers that we have in the ACT.

Reducing the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system can only mean one thing, looking the other way.

Looking the other way achieves nothing useful. What is actually helpful is providing support (including resources and skill development as needed) to people who are struggling, rather than punishing them.

Punishment does not address the source of the problems. Instead it feeds a sense of helplessness, injustice and anger which leads to further problems for everyone.

They paid $195 million in 2021-22, $200 million is not actually a substantial increase.

ChrisinTurner2:01 pm 29 Nov 22

And ACT ratepayers have to pay for policing of cookers upset with the Federal government.

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