AFP operational highlights revealed in 2020-21 Annual Report

The high-intensity and operational success of the Australian Federal Police is today outlined in the AFP’s 2020-21 Annual Report.

Despite the challenges of COVID-19 and a marked increase in some Federal crime, the report highlights the AFP’s significant and world-leading arrests and disruptions.

The operational success has been underscored by the AFP’s trusted and unparalleled relationships with law enforcement agencies across the globe. The AFP’s international reach is bolstered by AFP members who are posted to 33 countries and seven Police Development Missions. The AFP maintained a presence in all these countries during the pandemic.

The AFP’s key prevention, disruption, enforcement, protection and international collaboration outcomes for the past financial year include;

  • 38.4 tonnes of illicit drugs and precursors seized, equating to $15 billion in avoided harm;
  • 922 alleged offenders charged with criminal offences, including the first person charged in Australia with foreign interference;
  • 25 alleged offenders charged resulting from terrorism investigations by the AFP and domestic partners;
  • 411 disruptions across 22 countries, including three major counter terrorism disruptions;
  • The charging of 235 people in Australia with child exploitation offences;
  • Providing full-time close protection to eight high-office holders and ensuring the safety of nine significant visits by foreign dignitaries; and
  • Overt action under Operation Ironside, the biggest organised crime operation in the Southern Hemisphere, which with assistance from law enforcement partners, prevented 21 threats to life. As of 30 June 2021, there have been 287 alleged offenders charged, and 136 weapons and $49 million in cash seized under Operation Ironside.

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the annual report outlined the complex and diverse investigations undertaken by the AFP, plus the support provided to law enforcement in Australia and abroad.

“The AFP’s maxim is policing for a safer Australia. The pandemic may have presented challenges, but the AFP has revealed its agility to not only outflank the criminal environment, but provide key assistance to law enforcement across the globe,” Commissioner Kershaw said.

“As of June 30, Operation Ironside seized 4 tonnes of drugs and charged some of the most significant crime figures in the country.

“The AFP also deploys a significant weapon in fighting crime – the AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Team (CACT), which makes civil applications to strip the ill-gotten wealth from criminals.

“In the past financial year, the CACT has restrained criminal assets and successfully confiscated about $54 million, which has been directed to the Commonwealth’s Confiscated Assets Account. Those funds are redistributed by the Commonwealth into programs and initiatives that make our community safer and stronger.”

Commissioner Kershaw said the AFP was proud to contribute to keeping vulnerable Australians safe from COVID-19.

“We are an organisation of about 7000, and that comprises just 3346 police officers and 869 protective service officers.

“We are one of the smallest police forces in mainland Australia but deliver a devastating blow on the criminal syndicates that target Australia and Australia’s interests.”

In the past financial year, every state and territory police force requested specialist support from AFP Forensics for serious, unsolved or sensitive matters.

The AFP and its domestic partners continue to manage the reintegration of convicted high-risk terrorist offenders (HRTOs) into the community upon their release from jail.

The AFP has established an Enduring Risk Investigations stream and dedicated HRTO investigative teams in the ACT, NSW and Victoria.

In 2021-22, the AFP applied for and was granted interim control orders against six individuals; and arrested and charged seven people for breaching the conditions of their control orders.

Significant outcomes under child protection investigations, Operation Arkstone and Operation Molto, are outlined in the annual report.

In 2020-21, the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation received 22,680 reports of child sexual exploitation, which led to the charging of 235 alleged offenders with 2772 child abuse related offences, compared to 161 people with 1214 charges in 2019-20.

Prevention and education is also a key priority for the AFP.

In the Kingdom of Jordon in August 2020, Jordan’s Community Peace Centre, which is part of the Jordan Public Security Directorate, and in collaboration with AFP Amman post, a series of community engagement programs were launched to help prevent and counter violent extremism.

The programs were attended by 120 key participants from community, government and non-government organisations, and highlights the AFP’s leadership role in overseas crime prevention.

At home, the AFP-led online safety program, ThinkUKnow, was delivered 2251 times to more than 200,000 participants in the past financial year – an important education message given more children spent more time at home and in lockdowns.

In February 2021, AFP Western Central Command Community Liaison Team, in partnership with the Australian Refugee Association and South Australia Police, delivered a ThinkUKnow presentation in Arabic to a group of Syrian women new to Australia.

The new community members were unaware of how social platforms operate or of the range of potential online dangers, including online radicalisation and sexual exploitation targeting children and young people. The engagement underscores the AFP’s dedication to protecting vulnerable members of the community.

And in Alice Springs from October to December 2020, AFP members participated in the inaugural Making a Difference youth program for high school students.

The initiative sought to combine sport and police to make connections with youth that will enable them to better report abuse or crimes and to seek help from police and other services.

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