Policing has been an integral part of our society since the earliest days of convict settlement in this country. The NSW Police service has developed through many stages since colonial times to become the modern, responsive and diverse organisation it is today.
Policing activities commenced in New South Wales in 1789 with the establishment of a night watch (12 well behaved convicts) and expanded in 1810, under Governor Macquarie, into a system with districts and ranks. It wasn’t until 1862 however, that the Mounted Police, Foot Police and Water Police were combined into one administration with a total strength of 834 police. In 1926 the title of the head of the then Police Force changed from Inspector General to Commissioner of Police. In 1990 the Police Force were amalgamated as one organisation now named the New South Wales Police Force.
The New South Wales Police service of today is the third largest police organisation in the English speaking world. We have 16,000 employees and 13,000 sworn police officers.
The Commissioner of Police is the operational head of the police service. The Commissioner reports directly to the Minister for Police who is an elected representative of the people of New South Wales.
New South Wales has a population close to 6 million spread across 810,680 square kilometres which is more than double the geographic size of England, Scotland and Wales and comparable to the US state of Texas.
Services are provided to diverse communities with specialised policing needs from 467 police stations. These include inner city stations which have more than 150 police officers and service communities of over thirty nationalities to remote “outback” single officer stations.
Our basic working philosophy is community based policing with an emphasis on customer service and continuous improvement.
Community satisfaction surveys indicate that 85% of people who have contact with police in this state are happy with the service they receive.
At the same time we have been decreasing crimes such as stealing, break and enter, motor vehicle theft and offensive behaviour. Crimes such as domestic violence, child abuse, and sex offences, which people have traditionally been reluctant to report, have seen an increase in reporting.
Road safety is another area where, working together with the community, the New South Wales Police Force has made a major contribution to saving thousands of lives on our roads. The number of deaths on our roads is now less than half it was ten years ago and is the lowest in 40 years.
These positive results have been achieved at the same time as reducing the level of community concern about crime and violence.
The functions of the New South Wales Police Force are broadly categorised into Operational and Support Commands.
The State Commander heads the Operational arm of the organisation where over 80% of the staff are allocated.
The support arm of the organisation comprises the other 20% and includes support areas which provide specialist administrative, computer, education and strategic services which enable the Operational area to function effectively in serving the community.
There are of course many specialists within the Operational arm in areas in areas such as road safety, fingerprinting, rescue, water police, air wing, intelligence analysis, anti-terrorist and hostage negotiation, communications, specialist investigators in drug enforcement, child mistreatment, fraud and major crime.
Most police perform their duty in local patrols as general duties police, detectives, beat police, highway patrol and traffic services. They provide a comprehensive, professional community-based policing service.
The New South Wales Police Force has more than 2,900 motor vehicles, a fleet of almost 70 water craft including 11 ocean going boats and three helicopters.
The dog squad operates in all four policing regions and has a total of 59 dogs and handlers. Only a small number of German Shepherds are selected each year for training. The dogs and their handlers provide an essential operational role in tracking and apprehending offenders and searching for people who are missing. They also provide back-up to other police in many potentially dangerous situations.
The Mounted Police in New South Wales have the distinction of being the oldest continuous mounted police unit in the world having commenced in operation in 1825. After 168 years, the Mounted Police still provide an essential service in assisting other operational police with crowd and traffic control.
The New South Wales Police Force has a traffic control system which is considered one of the most advanced in the world. A fully automatic program controls traffic at more than 1800 intersections in the greater metropolitan area of Sydney.
Our radio network includes more than 6,000 mobiles, 480 base stations, six marine coast stations and three microwave links.
Our telecommunications network has over 20,000 extensions operating on 350 PABX systems which makes it the biggest police telephone network in the southern hemisphere.
All student police complete and 18 month education program, including field training and academic studies. The Police Academy at Goulburn features a high tech driver training range capable of simulating a wide range of driver conditions; state of the art fully electronic pistol range; and a fully established scenario training village capable of replicating tactical and emergency situations.
Beyond all this, there is one underlying factor; which is the commitment of the New South Wales Police Force to develop the evolving partnership between police and the community. A relationship which is breaking down barriers and contributing to the quality of life for everyone in our state.