Australian Police

Australian Police

The Thin Blue Line – Australian Police

The Sheriff in Australia


The Office of the Sheriff was first established in Australia by the Charter of Justice in 1824. Prior to this, the duties of the Sheriff were performed by the Provost-Marshal of the Colony of New South Wales.

The 1824 Charter also created the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. For the first time, the colony of New South Wales had three branches of government – Executive, Administrative and Judicial. This division of government continues to this day.
The role of the New South Wales Sheriff

There have been twenty one Sheriffs in New South Wales since 1824, and while some of the responsibilities of the Sheriff remain the same, there have been substantial changes in that time.

The historical records of New South Wales state that the duties of the Sheriff in 1824 were to:

  • “execute all the judgments, decrees and orders of the Supreme Court;
  • in criminal cases, carry out the death sentence and any minor sentences the Court might pass;
  • discharge the duties of the Coroner;
  • Act as the Marshal of the Admiralty;
  • arrange for the transmission of prisoners under sentence to iron’d gangs in the interior, Goat Island and the streets of Sydney;
  • run the gaols; and
  • arrange the reception and disposal of prisoners returned from penal settlements.”

Many of these duties have disappeared over the years, in particular responsibility for carrying out death sentences (the death penalty has been abolished in all Australian States), running gaols (which are now controlled by the Department of Corrective Services) and to Act as Coroner (now the special responsibility of the Coroner’s Court).

Today, the Office of the Sheriff has broad responsibility for the enforcing the civil law of New South Wales, as well as the providing Court security and running the jury system.
The responsibilities of the Sheriff today are to:

  • administer the Sheriff’s Office;
  • serve Summonses and enforcement orders, warrants and orders of the Supreme, District and Local Courts, and other tribunals and courts in New South Wales;
  • serve and enforce orders within the borders of New South Wales on behalf of Commonwealth courts, including the High Court, Federal Court and the Family Court of Australia;
  • arrange security for the Supreme Court, District Court, certain Local Courts and a range of tribunals; and
  • administer the jury system in New South Wales.

History of the Office of the Sheriff
The Office of Sheriff in Australia today
The Sheriffs of the Colony and State of New South Wales

5 thoughts on “The Sheriff in Australia

  • Does the NSW Sheriff have a rank structure such a senior deputies, sergeants etc.

    • Steven VARLEY

      Yes but not exactly the same but there is a rank structure. Probationary > sheriff officer yr1-4 sergeant yr1-4 inspectors and chief inspectors

  • I want to apply for the Sheriff position as one of the New South Wales Sheriff Process Enforcement Officer. I worked as a Papua new Guinea Sheriff Process Enforcement Officer for the last 5 years since 2018 and has gain so much interest and experienced in doing sheriff enforcement duties.

    What would be the best possibilities as to how I can be apply for the particular position as New South Wales Sheriff Process Enforcement Officer and the requirement?

  • NSW Sheriff is a separate division to the NSW Police Force but under the Sheriff Act and the Court Security Act 2005 they possess the same powers when performing duties on court premises or when performing field duties for a eviction.

  • Is a Sheriff considered part of the police force for eg. when performing a lockout of residential premises in NSW


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