30 March 2022

Proceeds of crime to fund new national police museum

| Sally Hopman
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Forensic evidence collected by the AFP from the 2002 Bali bombings will be exhibited at the new Australian Police Museum when it opens next year. Photo: File.

Diving suits worn by Australian Federal Police officers during the 2018 Thailand cave rescue, the 1996 Red Notice alert flagged for fugitive Christopher Skase, fragments from the Sofitel Hotel destroyed by the 2004 tsunami and forensic evidence from the 2002 Bali bombings will be among the items on display when the Australian Police Museum opens in Canberra next year.

Funded by $4.4 million drawn from proceeds of crime, the new museum will be built near the National Museum of Australia at Acton.

Federal Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said the Museum would showcase the AFP’s investigative triumphs over the past 30 years.

“Since becoming the Minister for Home Affairs I have authorised the Confiscated Assets Account to fund AFP-led projects for law enforcement, community safety and border security,” she said.

Red Notice

The AFP red notice alert distributed by the AFP for Christopher Skase in 1996. Photo: AFP.

When asked why proceeds of crime did not go more directly to victims of crime, an AFP spokesperson said: “Museums are a powerful medium that use contemporary displays to excite, reflect and most importantly, educate the public. The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 allows the Minister for Home Affairs to provide grants for a range of measures, including crime prevention. The Museum will focus on this measure through its public and education engagement. Engagement with students and the general public can have wide and extremely beneficial effects, which further extends to building trust and public confidence in police.”

The AFP spokesperson said the Museum would be built in stages. Plans have already started with the National Capital Authority and the building design will be determined within the next few months.

Ms Andrews said the new museum would be the first of its kind in Australia and would showcase the history of state and territory law enforcement and the AFP.

“The general public and tourists will be able to see exhibits from some of the most significant police operations in our nation’s history – the investigations led by the AFP not only captured the attention of Australians, but the world,” she said.

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All state and territory police and the AFP will be invited to play a role in the Museum’s creation, with input welcomed into its temporary and permanent displays and curators engaged from all branches of the force.

The spokesperson said the Museum would tell the stories of policing through a mix of objects and high-end digital displays.

Additional items scheduled for display include a drinks bill from Paddy’s Bar on the night of the Bali explosion and the original 1974 Ford Falcon XB ACT policing pursuit car.

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“Exhibitions may include articles which showcase items that reflect the evolution of policing, major investigations, moments in time or the science behind policing,” the spokesperson said.

He said the Museum would complement the National Police Memorial in Canberra.

“The ethos of the Museum will be that of the founder of policing, Sir Robert Peel; “police are the community and the community are the police”.

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Finagen_Freeman5:15 pm 03 Apr 22

Will it sell donuts!

As with all museums, the essential thing is the telling of truth so we can learn lessons from the past. Those lessons come from what worked (many examples) and what did not work (quite a few examples too). So there will be some challenges with telling a balanced story. Not least among the challenges with be the relationship between the police and First National people. The temptations for corruption and how they are guarded against is another area of challenge.

Is this an election gimmick? $4.4 milllion won’t go far to set it up, let alone maintain it. The government can’t fund existing collecting institutions properly so why add a new one next to the NMA? Will its maintenance depend on future proceeds from crime to support it? Will the government therefore need to encourage sufficient crime to keep it operational?
Coming from the minister for Home Affairs, rather than the minister for Communications and the Arts (who is responsible for the NMA) it sounds like a promotional device for the AFP rather than a serious national institution. Is there any planned legislation or other solid underpinnings beyond a press release?

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