Referring matters to the AFP - services for government

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When a matter can be referred to the AFP

An Australian Government department or agency may refer a matter to the AFP Operations Monitoring Centre (OMC) in the State or Territory where the suspected offence/s occurred if it:

  • identifies any serious breach of federal legislation
  • considers the AFP Case Categorisation and Prioritisation Model
  • considers the matter is appropriate for referral to the AFP
  • requires AFP assistance or advice in relation to an investigation being conducted by that department or agency into suspected breaches of Federal legislation

How to make a referral

For initial enquiries or pre-referral advice, departments and agencies should call the local AFP Operations Monitoring Centre.

All referrals should be made using an AFP Referral Form (DOC, 100KB). If you are having trouble accessing this document, please call the local AFP Operations Monitoring Centre.

Referrals should be sent to the AFP Operations Monitoring Centre in the State or Territory where the suspected offences occurred. The referral should include all relevant referral information and documents (letter and attachments).

Referrals may be sent by email or post, or delivered by hand. Agencies should consider the security classification and sensitivity of the information contained in the referral when deciding how to send it to the AFP.

All referral letters to the AFP must, as a minimum, include the following:

  • copies of all documents relevant to the referral
  • action being requested of the AFP
  • if the department or agency wants the AFP to consider a joint investigation, details should be included (such as which resources they are able to provide)
  • the suspected breaches including specific legislation offence(s)
  • details of the suspected offender(s) including name, date of birth, location (where known)
  • the suspect's criminal history, if known, and information relating to circumstances where they have previously come to the department or agency's attention
  • a chronological account of the facts or evidence supporting the suspected breach(es)
  • value of the revenue loss or potential losses for the department or agency
  • a summary of all enquiries or investigations already undertaken by the department or agency
  • details of witnesses
  • if the suspect(s) is aware of the department or agency's investigation/allegation
  • references to any specific legislative provisions including consent to prosecute or time limitation regarding commencement of prosecution
  • copies of relevant legal advice sought by, and provided to, the department or agency
  • significance or impact of the referral to the department or agency
  • the department or agency case reference number and other reference details, including the operation's name
  • details of the department or agency's nominated case officer and/or contact person including their contact details

Where search warrants or operational action is proposed, departments and agencies are requested to provide Standard Tactical Plans or similar planning documentation with the referral documents.

Special Arrangements

Special arrangements for referring matters have been negotiated with some departments and agencies.

The Australian Border Force should contact the AFP Operations Coordination Centre (AOCC) on (02) 6126 7788.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission should call the AOCC on (02) 6126 7133.

Law enforcement agencies, operations centres and crisis centres should contact the AOCC on (02) 6126 7133.

Exceptional circumstances and after-hours contacts

In exceptional circumstances, where immediate action by the AFP is required, a referral will be considered over the telephone. However the phone call must be supported by a written referral within 24 hours.

During business hours, contact the AFP Operations Monitoring Centre in the State or Territory where the suspected offences occurred.

After hours, contact the AOCC on (02) 5127 0000.

To get an urgent response at an airport, 24 hours a day, contact the AOCC on 131 AFP (131 237).

Terrorism and national security referrals

Referrals relating to terrorism or national security issues are addressed under specific protocols entered into between the AFP and agencies.

Referral of politically sensitive matters

Where deemed appropriate by the referring agency, matters of a politically sensitive nature may be raised with the Minister responsible for the AFP by the relevant Minister or Department at the same time the matter is referred to the AFP. This enables the Government to be informed at the earliest juncture of potentially politically contentious matters.

Under present arrangements, the Minister for Justice is responsible for the AFP.

However the Minister does not have the power, or responsibility, to decide what allegations the AFP will, or will not, investigate. The procedure to inform the Minister for Justice is designed to make him aware of significant matters affecting his portfolio. The decision to seek an AFP investigation will, unless the matter also affects other portfolios, remain that of the complainant agency or Minister.

The purpose of this procedure is to ensure that there is a coherent, consistent approach by the Government of the day and the AFP. The Minister for Justice will be informed of the investigation's outcome once it has been finalised.


AFP investigations of breaches of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 where the Australian Electoral Commission is the complainant are exempt from the provisions of these guidelines.

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