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.

ACT Policing
Common nameACT Policing
MottoWorking together for a safer community
Agency overview
Formed19 October, 1979
Preceding agency
  • Australian Capital Territory Police (1927)
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionAustralian Capital Territory, Australia
Australian Capital Territory in Australia (zoom).svg
Australian Capital Territory Police jurisdiction
Governing bodyGovernment of the Australian Capital Territory
Constituting instruments
  • Australian Federal Police Act 1979, Section 8
  • ACT Policing Arrangement, 14 June 2006
  • Purchase Agreement for the Provision of Policing Services to the ACT
General nature
HeadquartersWinchester Police Centre, Belconnen, ACT
Sworn members678 (December 2017 )
Unsworn members191 (December 2017)
Minister responsible
  • Mick Gentleman, Police and Emergency Services
Agency executives
  • Ray Johnson, Chief Police Officer, Assistant Commissioner
  • Michael Chew, Deputy Chief Police Officer, Response, Commander
  • Krissy Barrett, Deputy Chief Police Officer, Capability and Community Safety, Commander
  • Nicole Levay, Director Corporate Services
Services provided byAustralian Federal Police
Uniformed asAustralian Federal Police
Watch houses
Patrol carsYes
Motor bikesYes
Special purpose vehiclesYes
Push bikesYes


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.


Winchester Police Centre in Belconnen

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.[1]

Major Specialist UnitsEdit

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:

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 OfficersEdit

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.

Rank Name Post-nominals Term began Term ended
Chief Officer of the ACT Police Force
Chief Officer Harold Edward Jones OBE 1927 1943
Chief Officer Robert Reid 1943 1955
Commissioner Edward 'Ted' Richards MVO 1955 1966
Commissioner Leonard 'Len' Powley 1966 1966
Commissioner Roy Wilson MVO, QPM 1966 1977
Commissioner Reginald 'Reg' Kennedy QPM 1977 1979
AFP Assistant Commissioner for the ACT
Assistant Commissioner Alan Watt 1979 1982
Assistant Commissioner Val McConaghy 1982 1987
Assistant Commissioner Colin Winchester APM 1987 1989
Assistant Commissioner Brian Bates APM 1989 1989
Chief Police Officer of ACT Policing
Assistant Commissioner Brian Bates APM 1989 1992
Assistant Commissioner Peter Dawson APM 1992 1995
Commissioner Michael Palmer AO, APM 1995 1999
Assistant Commissioner William Stoll APM 1999 2000
Deputy Commissioner John Murray APM 2000 2004
Deputy Commissioner John Davies APM, OAM 2004 2005
Assistant Commissioner Audrey Fagan APM 2005 2007
Assistant Commissioner Michael Phelan APM 2007 2010
Assistant Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg APM 2010 2013
Assistant Commissioner Rudi Lammers APM 2013 2016
Assistant Commissioner Justine Saunders APM 2016 2018
Assistant Commissioner Ray Johnson APM 2018 Incumbent

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.

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.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Jarrett, Janice (October 1999). "Murder of Assistant Commissioner Winchester". Australian Federal Police. Archived from the original on 5 December 2010. Retrieved 1 July 2009.

External linksEdit