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Report on Government Services 2022

Part C, Section 6: LATEST UPDATE: 7 JUNE 2022

6 Police services

Impact of COVID-19 on data for the Police services section

COVID-19 may affect data in this Report in a number of ways. This includes in respect of actual performance (that is, the impact of COVID-19 on service delivery during 2020 and 2021 which is reflected in the data results), and the collection and processing of data (that is, the ability of data providers to undertake data collection and process results for inclusion in the Report).

For the Police services section, there has been some impact on the data that is attributable to COVID-19 but this has not affected either the comparability or completeness of any indicators. The introduction of COVID-19 related restrictions in March 2020 affected the volume of defendants adjudicated in the Magistrates' courts which affects the indicator on Magistrates' court decisions resulting in a guilty outcome for defendants.

Some specific footnoting identifies some additional technical matters in the data tables which may be applicable to individual jurisdictions.

The focus of performance reporting in this section is on police services, covering the operations of the police agencies of each State and Territory government, including the ACT community policing function performed by the Australian Federal Police.

The Indicator Results tab uses data from the data tables to provide information on the performance for each indicator in the Indicator Framework. The same data in the data tables are also available in CSV format.

Skip to downloadable Police services data tables and supporting material

  • Context
  • Indicator framework
  • Indicator results
  • Indigenous data

Objectives for police services

Police services aim to contribute to a safe and secure community that enables people to undertake their lawful pursuits confidently and safely. To achieve these aims, governments seek to provide police services that:

  • are accessible, and responsive to community needs, including disaster and emergency management
  • support the judicial process to bring to justice those people responsible for committing an offence
  • provide safe custodial services
  • are delivered with integrity, honesty and fairness
  • promote safer behaviour on roads.

Governments aim for police services to meet these objectives in an equitable and efficient manner.

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Service overview

Police services are the principal means through which State and Territory governments pursue the achievement of a safe and secure environment for the community. Across jurisdictions, police activity can be grouped into four broad activity areas:

  • Community safety – preserving public order and promoting a safer community
  • Crime – investigating crime and identifying and apprehending offenders
  • Road safety – targeted operations to reduce the incidence of traffic offences and through attendance at, and investigation of, road traffic collisions and incidents
  • Judicial services – support to the judicial process including the provision of safe custody for alleged offenders.

Police services also respond to more general needs in the community — for example, working with emergency management organisations and a wide range of government services and community groups, and advising on general policing issues.

Roles and responsibilities

Police services are predominantly the responsibility of State and Territory government agencies. They include the ACT community policing function performed by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) under an arrangement between the ACT and the Commonwealth Minister for Justice.

The Australian Government is responsible for the AFP. Data for the national policing function of the AFP and other national non-police law enforcement bodies (such as the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission) are not included in this Report.


Funding for police services comes almost exclusively from State and Territory governments, with some limited specific purpose Australian Government grants. Nationally in 2020-21, total real recurrent expenditure (including user cost of capital, less revenue from own source and payroll tax) was $14.1 billion (table 6A.1).

Size and scope

Client groups

Broadly, the entire community is a ‘client’ of the police. Some members of the community, who have more direct dealings with the police, can be considered specific client groups, for example:

  • victims of crime
  • those suspected of, or charged with, committing offences1
  • those reporting criminal incidents
  • those involved in traffic-related incidents
  • third parties (such as witnesses to crime and people reporting traffic accidents)
  • those requiring police services for non-crime-related matters.


Police staff may be categorised in two different ways:

  • by ‘sworn’ status — sworn police officers exercise police powers, including the power to arrest, summons, caution, detain, fingerprint and search. Specialised activities may be outsourced or undertaken by administrative (unsworn) staff
  • by operational status — an operational police staff member is any member (sworn or unsworn) whose primary duty is the delivery of police or police-related services to an external client (where an external client predominately refers to members of the public but may also include law enforcement outputs delivered to other government departments).

Operational status is considered the better estimate for the number of police staff actively engaged in the delivery of police-related services. Nationally in 2020-21, 91.4 per cent of the 79 922 police staff were operational (a decrease from the 10-year high of 92.2 per cent in 2017-18). This equates to 284 per 100 000 people, but varies across jurisdictions, in part, due to differing operating environments (figure 6.1 and table 6A.2).


The responsiveness of police to calls for assistance is critical to the effectiveness of police services. Although the Steering Committee considers nationally comparable response times reporting a priority for this Report, currently there is no consistent public reporting of response times across states and territories. NSW, Qld, WA, SA and ACT police publish response times data in annual reports. Other jurisdictions do not report response times as part of their corporate reporting, and have advised they are unable to provide these data for this Report.

  • NSW Police Force report the number of urgent (imminent threat to life or property) response calls and the percentage attended within a target time of 12 minutes. In 2020-21, NSW Police Force responded to 158 773 urgent response calls, attending 75.7 per cent of urgent duty jobs within the 12 minute target time.
  • Queensland Police Service report the percentage of code 1 and code 2 incidents attended within 12 minutes. Data includes geographic areas covered by the Queensland Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) System. Code 1 and 2 incidents include very urgent matters when danger to human life is imminent and urgent matters involving injury or present threat of injury to person or property. In 2020-21, Queensland Police Service attended 86.0 per cent of urgent matters within the 12 minute target time.
  • WA Police Force aim to respond to 80 per cent of priority 1 and 2 incidents – situations that require urgent attendance and include an imminent threat to life, serious offence or incident in progress – within 12 minutes in the Perth metropolitan area, and reported 76.4 per cent meeting this target in 2020-21. The target for priority 3 incidents – situations that require routine attendance and include an offence in progress/suspect at scene or the preservation of evidence – is 80 per cent within 60 minutes in the Perth metropolitan area (79.0 per cent achieved in 2020-21).
  • SA Police reported that 93.2 per cent of Grade 1 taskings in the metropolitan area were responded to within 15 minutes in 2020-21. The target is 80 per cent or above.
  • ACT Policing report response time targets for three incident categories:
    • Priority One incidents (life threatening or critical situations) are 80 per cent or more of responses within 10 minutes (77.5 per cent achieved in 2020-21)
    • Priority Two incidents (situations where the information provided indicates that time is important but not critical) are 80 per cent within 20 minutes (73.6 per cent achieved in 2020-21)
    • Priority Three incidents (situations where there is no immediate danger to safety or property but police attendance or response is needed no later than 48 hours from the initial contact by the complainant or a time agreed with the complainant) is 90 per cent within 48 hours (95.5 per cent achieved in 2020-21).
  1. The use of the term ‘offender’ in this section refers to a person who is alleged to have committed an offence. It differs from the definition used in section 8 (‘Corrective services’), where the term ‘offender’ refers to a person who has been convicted of an offence and is subject to a correctional sentence. Locate Footnote 1 above


NSW Police Force 2021, Annual Report 2020‑21.

Queensland Police Service 2021, 2020-21 Annual Report.

WA Police Force 2021, 2021 Annual Report.

SA Police 2021, 2020-21 Annual Report.

ACT Policing 2021, Annual Report 2020-21.

The performance indicator framework provides information on equity, efficiency and effectiveness, and distinguishes the outputs and outcomes of police services.

The performance indicator framework shows which data are complete and comparable in this Report. For data that are not considered directly comparable, text includes relevant caveats and supporting commentary. Section 1 discusses data comparability and completeness from a Report-wide perspective. In addition to the contextual information for this service area (see Context tab and supporting interpretative material), the Report’s statistical context (Section 2) contains data that may assist in interpreting the performance indicators presented in this section.

Improvements to performance reporting for police services are ongoing and include identifying data sources to fill gaps in reporting for performance indicators and measures, and improving the comparability and completeness of data.


Outputs are the services delivered (while outcomes are the impact of these services on the status of an individual or group) (see section 1). Output information is also critical for equitable, efficient and effective management of government services.


Outcomes are the impact of services on the status of an individual or group (see section 1).

Indicator framework

An overview of the Police services performance indicator results is presented. Different delivery contexts, locations and types of clients can affect the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of police services.

Information to assist the interpretation of these data can be found in the Police services supporting interpretative material and data tables. Data tables are identified by a ‘6A’ prefix (for example, table 6A.1).

All data are available for download as an excel spreadsheet and as a CSV dataset — refer to Download supporting material. Specific data used in figures can be downloaded by clicking in the figure area, navigating to the bottom of the visualisation to the grey toolbar, clicking on the 'Download' icon and selecting 'Data' from the menu. Selecting 'PDF' or 'Powerpoint' from the 'Download' menu will download a static view of the performance indicator results.

Performance indicator data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this section are available in the data tables listed below. Contextual data and further supporting information can be found in the interpretative material and data tables.

Police services data disaggregated for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Table number Table title
Table 6A.2 Police staffing
Table 6A.19 Deaths in police custody, by Indigenous status
Table 6A.20 Youth diversions as a proportion of offenders, by Indigenous status

Download supporting material