Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

ACT Policing

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Common name  ACT Policing
Formed  19 October, 1979
Abbreviation  ACTPol
Employees  923 (14/10/2010)
ACT Policing
Motto  Working together for a safer community
Preceding agency  Australian Capital Territory Police Force (1927)

ACT Policing is the portfolio of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) responsible for providing policing services to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The Australian Capital Territory Police was an independent police force responsible for policing the ACT until 19 October 1979, when it was merged with the Commonwealth Police to form the AFP.



In 1911, the ACT was proclaimed as the seat of Australian government, then the Federal Capital Territory under Commonwealth Government administration. Until 1927, the New South Wales Police patrolled what was mostly rural bushland, except for a small and slowly expanding capital city of Canberra. By the mid-1920s plans were well underway to move Parliament and several Commonwealth Government departments to Canberra and many public buildings were on the verge of being constructed.

In 1926, the Commonwealth Attorney-General determined that policing in the Territory should be performed by a local force. In 1927, the Federal Capital Territory Police was formed and staffed by 11 men, 10 former Commonwealth Peace Officers and the former NSW Police Sergeant, who had been in charge of the NSW Police contingent in Canberra. The force soon changed its name to the Commonwealth Police (Australian Capital Territory), until 1957 when it formally adopted the name, Australian Capital Territory Police Force.

On 19 October 1979, as a result of a Commonwealth Government restructure of Australian national policing services, the ACT Police Force amalgamated with the Commonwealth Police to form the Australian Federal Police (AFP). The AFP assumed responsibility for policing the ACT, retaining the role to this day, notable as the ACT attained a degree of self-government in 1989. ACT Policing currently consists of around 923 people of which just over 690 are sworn police.


ACT Policing consists of five police stations (patrols) located in the Canberra town centres of Belconnen, City (Civic), Woden, Tuggeranong and Gungahlin Joint Emergency Service Centre. Police Constables based at these stations provide general duties community policing for the ACT. Uniformed traffic operations members work from the Traffic Operations Centre in Belconnen and primarily focus on road safety and traffic law enforcement within the ACT.

The Winchester Police Centre, Benjamin Way, Belconnen, is the ACT Policing Headquarters. The Complex houses ACT Policing's Executive, administrative and support sections and elements of the Criminal Investigations area (CI).

The complex is named in memory of the former Assistant Commissioner Colin Winchester APM, the head of the then ACT Region (ACT Policing) of the AFP. Assistant Commissioner Winchester was murdered outside his house in early 1989.

Major Specialist Units

Criminal Investigations (CI) provides a detective function for the ACT, and is located at each of the main police stations (being Tuggeranong, Woden, Belconnen and City) and the Winchester Police Centre.

Specialist Response Group (SRG) provide a full-time tactical response capability in addition to search and rescue, public order management (riot control), police dogs and bomb response functions.


As distinct from the majority of AFP Members engaged in duties outside of ACT Policing, who under AFP Commissioner's Order 1 (Administration), are titled Federal Agents, police Members of ACT Policing (and some other AFP portfolios) adopt traditional ranks:

  • Constable
  • First Constable
  • Senior Constable
  • Leading Senior Constable
  • Sergeant
  • Station Sergeant
  • Superintendent
  • Commander (Deputy Chief Police Officer of the Australian Capital Territory)
  • Assistant Commissioner (Chief Police Officer of the Australian Capital Territory)
  • Those who have sufficient experience and have demonstrated the appropriate competencies are designated as a Detective whilst performing investigative duties in ACT Policing. Members with a Detective designation who assume other roles do not use the title when not attached to investigative or Criminal Investigations (CI) function.

    Chief Police Officers

    The title 'Chief Officer' was first used by Lieutenant Colonel Harold Edward Jones from 1927 until his retirement in 1943. During his tenure, Jones also held the positions of Director of the Commonwealth Investigation Bureau and the Superintendent of the Peace Officer Guard. Jones' successor, Robert Reid, was appointed solely to head the ACT Police Force (then titled Commonwealth Police (ACT)). Subsequent commanders of the ACT Police Force used the title Commissioner until the force was amalgamated with the Commonwealth Police in 1979 to form the AFP.

    The chief police officers from 1927 to 1979 were:

  • 1927-1943 Chief Officer Harold Edward Jones
  • 1943-1955 Chief Officer Robert Reid
  • 1955-1966 Commissioner Edward (Ted) Richards (MVO)
  • 1966 Commissioner Leonard (Len) Powley
  • 1966-1977 Commissioner Roy Wilson MVO, QPM
  • 1977-1979 Commissioner Reginald (Reg) Kennedy QPM
  • Between 1979 and 1989, community policing operations in the ACT were headed by an AFP Assistant Commissioner. These officers were:

  • 1979-1982 Assistant Commissioner Alan Watt
  • 1982-1987 Assistant Commissioner Val McConaghy
  • 1987-1989 Assistant Commissioner Colin Winchester APM
  • 1989-1992 Assistant Commissioner Brian Bates APM
  • During Assistant Commissioner Bates' tenure, at the time of ACT self-government commencement in 1989, the title Chief Police Officer was resumed to denote the head of ACT Policing. Whilst remaining within the AFP command structure, the CPO also became accountable to the ACT Government for policing outcomes in the ACT.

  • 1989-1992 Assistant Commissioner Brian Bates APM
  • 1992-1995 Assistant Commissioner Peter Dawson APM
  • 1995-1999 Commissioner Mick Palmer AO APM
  • 1999-2000 Assistant Commissioner William Stoll APM
  • 2000-2004 Deputy Commissioner John Murray APM
  • 2004-2005 Deputy Commissioner John Davies OAM APM
  • 2005-2007 Assistant Commissioner Audrey Fagan APM
  • 2007-2010 Assistant Commissioner Michael Phelan APM
  • 2010–2013 Assistant Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg
  • July 1 2013-present Assistant Commissioner Rudi Lammers
  • In 2001, the position and title of Deputy Chief Police Officer was created. The first incumbent, between 2001 and 2002, was Assistant Commissioner Denis McDermott APM, followed by Assistant Commissioner Andrew Hughes APM between 2002 and 2003. Assistant Commissioner Hughes performed the duties of the Chief Police Officer for most of the period between the death of Assistant Commissioner Fagan APM and the appointment of Assistant Commissioner Phelan APM in 2007. Since 2003, the title of Deputy Chief Police Officer has been used by both Commander rank deputies of the ACT Policing Executive.


    ACT Policing Wikipedia