Local Time

Saturday, May 08, 2004


Some of Australia’s intelligence
and law enforcement agencies

Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence (ABCI)
The Bureau was established primarily to facilitate the exchange of criminal intelligence between Australian law enforcement agencies. The Australasian Police Ministers’ Council provided a mandate for the ABCI to have intelligence collection, collation, analysis and dissemination functions. The ABCI does not have an operational arm, but rather is a service agency for Australian police forces and other law enforcement agencies. The ABCI is one of six national common police services in Australia. The others are: Australian Institute of Police Management; National Police Research Unit; National Crime Statistics Unit; National Exchange of Police Information; National Institute of Forensic Science.

Australian Federal Police (AFP)

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is the major instrument of law enforcement at the national level. Its role is to enforce Commonwealth criminal law and protect Commonwealth and national interests from crime in Australia and overseas. The AFP is Australia’s international law enforcement and policing representative and the chief source of advice to the Government on policing issues.

Australian Protective
Service (APS)

The core business of the APS includes responsibility for providing protective security at the residences of the Governor-General and Prime Minister and the office of the Prime Minister; Parliament House in Canberra; sensitive Defence establishments, including the Australian/US Joint Defence Facilities at Pine Gap and Nurrungar; Counter Terrorist First Response at major airports; the offices and residences of high office holders when required; foreign diplomatic missions; the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, and Maralinga, the former atomic weapon testing site in South Australia.

Protective Service officers are empowered under the Australian Protective Service Act 1987 to arrest, without warrant, people contravening specified Commonwealth Acts relating to the protection of Commonwealth establishments, Commonwealth employees, Internationally Protected Persons and Commonwealth assets.

Australian Security Intelligence
Organisation (ASIO)

ASIO’s main role is to gather information and produce intelligence that will enable it to warn the government about activities or situations that might endanger Australia’s national security. The ASIO Act defines ‘security’ as the protection of Australia and its people from espionage, sabotage, politically motivated violence, the promotion of communal violence, attacks on Australia’s defence system, and acts of foreign interference. Some of these terms are further defined in the ASIO Act. ASIO focuses on terrorists, people who may act violently for political reasons, and people who may clandestinely obtain sensitive government information (spies) or otherwise harm Australia’s interests in order to further their own causes or the interests of foreign governments. ASIO says it does not investigate lawful protest activity nor does it investigate purely criminal activities. Under the ASIO Act, the Attorney-General, the Minister to whom ASIO is responsible, has issued guidelines on how ASIO should perform its functions relating to politically motivated violence and its functions of obtaining intelligence relevant to security. ASIO has a staff of about 500. Its central office is in Canberra, and there is a local office in each mainland state and territory capital. For the financial year 2000-2001, ASIO’s appropriation was $62.695 million.

Australian Secret
Intelligence Service (ASIS)

ASIS is Australia’s overseas intelligence collection agency. Its primary function is to obtain and distribute information, not readily available by other means, about the capabilities, intentions and activities of individuals or organisations outside Australia, which may impact on Australian interests, and the well-being of its citizens. ASIS tasks can include reporting on major defence, international relations or national economic issues as well as international efforts in support of peace-keeping and against threats from weapons proliferation.

Protective Security Coordination Centre (PSCC)

The PSCC coordinates policies, plans and arrangements for countering the assessed threat and risk of politically motivated violence and for managing the Commonwealth’s protective security responsibilities.

Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC)

Monitors financial transactions throughout Australia and reports ‘suspicious’ transactions to relevant law enforcement authorities.

Health Insurance Commission

The national and state focus of intelligence analysis is to provide support to investigators and strategic intelligence advice to the HIC. Information Reports relating to suspected fraud and abuse to the Government programs administered by the HIC are captured and stored within an Intelligence Database. These reports are collected to provide analysis and can be searched at state and national level within the Professional Review Branch Network. The Program Abuse Information Report commenced operation on 1 July 1996 and as at December 2000 a total of 10,500 reports had been received. Reports came primarily from Medicare offices and processing centre staff and provide "a valuable source of intelligence on fraud and inappropriate practice." Many individual reports generate a requirement for further investigation.

Defense Signals Directorate (DSD)

DSD has two principal functions: one is to collect and disseminate foreign signals intelligence (known as Sigint); the other is to provide Information Security (Infosec) products and services to the Australian Government and its Defence Force. The Directorate’s intelligence-related activities and operations are classified in the interests of national security. It has a direct link to the US National Security Agency.

The Office of National
Assessments (ONA)

ONA is an autonomous body, founded by an Act of Parliament under which it reports direct to the Prime Minister. The role of the Office of National Assessments is to produce analytical assessments of international developments. ONA produces reports, appreciations and assessments on international political, strategic and economic matters in order to assist the Prime Minister, Ministers and Departments in the formation of policy and plans. ONA is not subject to external direction on the content of its assessments, and is independent of any Department or Authority.

National Crime Authority (NCA)

Has recently involved itself with monitoring the thousands of "underground" Web sites which offer everything from advice on making weapons and bombs to sending 10,000 emails at once. The NCA says these web sites are "part of a disturbing development where new technology and the Internet are providing a boon for criminals."

Defense Intelligence
Organisation (DIO)

Provides intelligence to inform defence and government policy and planning to support the planning and conduct of Australian Defence Force operations and to develop and maintain defence intelligence capability for use in times of crisis and conflict.


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