AFP at the cutting edge of law enforcement capability

Wed 06-12-2023 07:29 am AEST

Editor’s note: Audio grabs from Tony Alderman available via Hightail.

The AFP is creating pilot projects and new technology to stay a step ahead of criminals to protect Australians and Australia’s interests. 

The AFP’s Commissioner Innovation Fund established in 2019 has supported more than 70 projects to deliver new and cutting edge-capabilities, crime prevention initiatives as well as enhancements in operational efficiency.

The AFP established the Innovation Fund to harness the potential, skills and experience of its members through delivery of pilot projects, new technology and new ways of working.

Successful projects include:

  • High Risk Explosive Detection Dog (HREDD) capability, allowing handlers to effectively deploy dogs off-leash, under control, at distance, in multiple environments, using hand directions and communication tools such as silent whistles and lasers;
  • Funding to train AFP members in genealogy, allowing the use of a specialised DNA testing capability, called Forensic Genetic Genealogy (FGG). The capability allows AFP members to submit DNA information to select genealogy platforms, which hold collections of records that can allow people to trace their family history. The genealogy platforms return lists of potential relatives, allowing the use of traditional genealogy to assess possible relationships against the unknown individual. In some cases, the FGG capability will be the last resort to reunite the remains of unknown Australian with families who are left without answers.
  • Online child safety picture book Jack Changes the Game – a first-of-its kind for law enforcement that is designed for parents, carers and educators to read to 5 to 8-year-old children;
  • The pilot of a hand-held device that uses micro-near infrared technology, combined with cloud-based data, to help identify the type of illicit drugs; and
  • AFP Neurodiversity Project to improve AFP’s ability to leverage the unique skillsets of neurodiverse individuals.

AFP Manager Policing Development and Innovation Tony Alderman said the AFP Commissioner’s Innovation Fund promoted creative thinking to help maximise the AFP’s ability to target the criminal environment.

“The Innovation Fund promotes inventive and pioneering thinking across the entire agency. The AFP wants to be recognised as an innovative world leading police service,” Mr Alderman said

“We know our members are experts in their field, and the innovation fund helps us capture their ideas on how to do things better, and turn those ideas into actions that make our community safer.”

Last year, two projects were recognised for protecting our community through their innovation and law enforcement firsts.

The AFP is leading the way in the development of an off-lead explosive detection dog capability that enables enhanced protection of our members, the community and infrastructure.

The HREDD capability is a cutting-edge tool that can be used to screen large scale areas for explosives and other hazardous items. These highly-trained dogs can provide security screening and can be deployed at:

  • Heads of Government meetings / visits;
  • Parliamentary events;
  • Places of mass gathering; and
  • Australia’s major airports. 

Extensive research was conducted when developing this capability, including methodologies from the US Air Force, international military working dog, and hunting and retrieval methodologies.

Last month, a demonstration at Australian Parliament House showed dogs being controlled off-lead.

Another project that has received positive community praise is the children’s book developed by the AFP about online safety Jack Changes the Game that was recently recognised at Queensland Child Protection Week Awards.

Mr Alderman said the first-of-its-kind for law enforcement, Jack Changes the Game, won the Education Initiative Award, acknowledging its outstanding contribution to child protection.

“This book is a powerful resource to help families around Australia begin important conversations about online safety and we are proud it was funded by the AFP Commissioner’s Innovation Fund.”

Over the past four years the AFP Commissioner’s Innovation Fund has supported 74 projects.