AFP restructures to combat growing criminal threats

“Beyond the Pacific, the AFP will continue to leverage our international law enforcement partnerships to help stop crime before it reaches Australia."

The AFP will now have four Deputy Commissioners to combat growing criminal threats under a restructure that has promoted more women to senior positions than any time in the agency’s history.

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw is supported by Deputy Commissioner National Security Ian McCartney, acting Deputy Commissioner Crime Grant Nicholls, ACT Policing Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan and Deputy Commissioner International and Specialist Capabilities Command Lesa Gale, who has become only the second woman in the AFP to be promoted to Deputy Commissioner.

Deputy Commissioner Gale’s appointment was approved by the Governor-General, General David Hurley, on 16 March, 2023.

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Commissioner Kershaw said the evolution of federal policing over the past 100 years was driven by the changing and complex criminal environment.

“This restructure comes as the AFP’s remit continues to increase, in part driven by the complexity of cyber crime and other tech-enabled criminality,’’ Commissioner Kershaw said.

“Comprehensive legislative frameworks, including a number of national security laws passed since 2001, have cemented the AFP’s responsibility to keep Australians safe and protect Australia’s way of life.

“Crime and national security responsibilities have been split to reflect the growing criminal threat, which has been exacerbated by geopolitics and COVID 19.

“With our Pacific law enforcement partners, with whom we have enduring and strong relationships, we are targeting those criminals using the Pacific as a maritime drug highway to Australia.

“Beyond the Pacific, the AFP will continue to leverage our international law enforcement partnerships to help stop crime before it reaches Australia.

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“Every day the people of the AFP are working to keep Australians safe. The restructure and promotions will allow the AFP to continue to deliver maximum damage to the criminal environment and remain a step ahead.”

Deputy Commissioner McCartney, who has been a member of the AFP for 32 years, was formerly the Deputy Commissioner for Investigations, which had responsibility for transnational serious crime, cyber crime and counter terrorism. Now, Deputy Commissioner McCartney will lead engagement on matters involving Australia’s national security frameworks, including counter terrorism and foreign interference, and its operational implementation; plus aviation, protection and security.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Nicholls will be responsible for developing and managing the AFP’s crime and cyber strategies and related policy issues. Acting Deputy Commissioner Nicholls was formerly the AFP Assistant Commissioner Learning and Development, was a former Northern Territory Police Deputy Commissioner and a former acting Deputy Commissioner for New Zealand Police. He has worked in law enforcement for about 38 years.

Deputy Commissioner Gaughan, whose career with the AFP spans more than 30 years, continues to oversee community policing operations in the ACT and for the AFP’s activities in external territories.

Deputy Commissioner Gale has responsibility for the AFP’s specialist capabilities and will focus on building and strengthening international relationships, particularly in the Pacific. With more than 200 members in 33 countries, the AFP is among Australia’s first line of defence.

Recently, Deputy Commissioner Gale was the Assistant Commissioner for Northern Command (which includes Queensland and parts of the Northern Territory) and had responsibility for the AFP-led Australia Centre to Counter Child Exploitation, the country’s foremost agency tackling child sexual abuse in Australia and throughout the globe.

The restructure has promoted further female Assistant Commissioners, making them the most senior AFP member in the state or command they serve in. Thirty-nine per cent of the AFP’s sworn executive are female.

Assistant Commissioner Krissy Barrett has become the first woman in the AFP to lead Counter Terrorism and Special Investigations Command. Assistant Commissioner Barrett, formerly the Assistant Commissioner in Southern Command (Victoria), previously led the Aviation and Protection teams to provide counter terrorism first response and aviation security in Victoria and Tasmania, and the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce within the AFP’s Criminal Asset, Fraud and Anti-Corruption portfolio. She has been a member of the AFP for 22 years.

Southern Command (Victoria and Tasmania) is now led by Assistant Commissioner Hilda Sirec, who was formerly a Commander in Northern Command. Assistant Commissioner Sirec was formerly an AFP senior officer in Pakistan, and in 2014 was deployed to the Ukraine to investigate the downing of MH17. She has been a member of the AFP for 21 years.

Assistant Commissioner Alison Wegg leads the AFP’s Specialist Protective Command, which comprises and integrates a range of the AFP’s highly specialised capabilities responsible for deterring, responding to, and resolving threats against Australians and Australia’s national interests both at home and abroad. Assistant Commissioner Wegg has previously deployed to Bangkok where she led the AFP’s in-country response to child exploitation and human trafficking matters. She has been a member of the AFP for 32 years.

Northern Command, is now led by Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough, who was formerly the Assistant Commissioner for Cyber Command – the first time an Assistant Commissioner was appointed to focus on combatting cyber crime. Assistant Commissioner Gough has been a member of the AFP for 33 years, and was formerly Assistant Commissioner Eastern Command (NSW) and has held various roles in human trafficking, countering terrorism, illicit drugs and organised crime.

Assistant Commissioner Kirsty Schofield assumes the lead of Crime Command after formerly being the Assistant Commissioner for Eastern Command (NSW). Crime Command is at the forefront of keeping Australians safe. Assistant Commissioner Schofield has been a member of the AFP for more than 30 years and leads the AFP’s strategy on fraud and anti-corruption. Assistant Commissioner Schofield will also oversee the ACCCE.

The restructure ensures the AFP remains agile and alert to emerging threats.

Assistant Commissioner Nigel Ryan, who headed-up Operation Ironside, is now the Assistant Commissioner for a new Pacific Asia Command. Assistant Commissioner Ryan was formerly the Assistant Commissioner Crime Command and established the National Anti-Gangs Squad initiative. He has been a member of the AFP for 27 years and a former chief-of-staff to Commissioner Kershaw.

Stephen Dametto has been promoted from Commander to Assistant Commissioner. Assistant Commissioner Dametto will be in charge of the busiest regional command within the AFP, Eastern Command. He was previously seconded to the UK’s National Crime Agency and the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command (S015) and was a senior investigating officer in the Ukraine and the Netherlands to investigate the downing of MH17. Working in law enforcement for more than 20 years, Assistant Commissioner Dametto has extensive experience in countering terrorism, illicit drugs, money laundering and organised crime.

A new Assistant Commissioner position for Intelligence and Covert Services has been created. Assistant Commissioner Hans Koenderink, formerly the Commander Intelligence Operations, will now drive the intelligence critical to supporting the AFP to target known and emerging threats. Assistant Commissioner Koenderink was a former police attaché to Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia for the National Police of the Netherlands. Assistant Commissioner Hans Koenderink has almost 37 years of intelligence and policing experience in operations, intelligence and international engagement.

Assistant Commissioner Scott Lee, formerly the Assistant Commissioner for Counter Terrorism and Special Investigations Command, is now leading Cyber Command. Cyber crime is becoming an entrenched and growing threat, with vectors throughout the world targeting Australian governments, businesses, academia, financial institutions, critical infrastructure and citizens. Assistant Commissioner Lee has been a member of the AFP for 37 years, was previously posted to Bangkok as a senior liaison officer and during the Bali bombings was deployed to Indonesia as forward Commander, leading the Australian contingent to the investigation.

Assistant Commissioner Michael Pannett, formerly Assistant Commissioner International, now becomes Assistant Commissioner Americas, Europe, Middle-East and Africa. Assistant Commissioner Pannett, a New Zealand Police Assistant Commissioner for International and National Security, was also the New Zealand Police Liaison Officer to the United States of America, Canada, Central and South America, based in the New Zealand Embassy, Washington DC, between 2011-2015.

Assistant Commissioner Doug Boudry is now the Deputy Chief Police Officer in ACT Policing. Assistant Commissioner Boudry, a former chief-of-staff to Commissioner Kershaw, has worked across a variety of capabilities including community policing, technical surveillance, digital forensics, enterprise information and communications technology, and covert and technical operations. He has been a member of the AFP for almost 24 years.

Assistant Commissioner Peter Crozier moves from Deputy Chief Police Officer in ACT Policing to Assistant Commissioner Learning and Development Command. Assistant Commissioner Crozier has undertaken previous postings to the UK and Singapore and performed operational duties across the AFP’s community policing, national and international responsibilities. He has been a member of the AFP for 36 years and was the AFP’s investigative lead for the downing of MH17.

Assistant Commissioner Peter Harvey remains in Central Command (South Australia and parts of the Northern Territory) and Assistant Commissioner Pryce Scanlan remains in Western Command (Western Australia).

The AFP has an Assistant Commissioner in every mainland state, plus the ACT.