Australian Federal Police

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The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is the federal police agency of the Commonwealth of Australia. Although the AFP was created by the amalgamation in 1979 of three Commonwealth law enforcement agencies, it traces its history from Commonwealth law enforcement agencies dating back to the federation of Australia's six precursor British self-governing colonies in 1901.

The AFP Child Protection Operations (CPO) team performs an investigative and coordination role within Australia for multijurisdictional and international online adult-child sex matters within the online and travel and tourism environments. These matters include those to and from Australian State and Territory Police, government and non-government organisations (including Internet Service Providers and Internet Content Hosts), the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), international law enforcement agencies, Interpol and members of the public.

The AFP investigates certain online adult-child sex-related activities which occur using a telecommunications service, such as computers with internet connectivity or mobile phones. The types of offenses investigated include accessing, sending or uploading child pornography. Grooming and procuring of children over the internet is also investigated by the AFP. This is when an adult has made online contact with a child under the age of sixteen with the intention of facilitating a sexual relationship. AFP investigations may also focus on Internet sites carrying child pornography and operated from an ISP in Australia. In cases where the site content is not hosted within Australia, the matter is referred to overseas law enforcement agencies.

The AFP admits, "It is not known whether the child sex tourism legislation has any real deterrent effect on Australians determined to have sex with children overseas."[1]

AFP policy in relation to international travel of Australian Registered Child Sex Offenders

Each State and Territory has laws that set out who becomes registered on the National Child Offence System (NCOS) as a "Registered Offender". These laws also prescribe when a person ceases to be a Registered Child Sex Offender. A Registered Offender must report intended travel outside of Australia. The State or Territory Registrar is obliged under State and Territory law to advise the Australian Federal Police (AFP) with a copy of this report.

In accordance with its functions as set out in the Australian Federal Police Act 1979, including crime prevention, the AFP may provide information relating to a Registered Offender’s international travel to a Foreign Law Enforcement Agency. The AFP's current policy in relation to a Registered Offender’s intended international travel is that notification will occur in most circumstances. This policy also relates to cruise ships departing from Australia travelling to International destinations.

The notification includes the offence(s) and sentence for which the Registered Offender is registered; registration period; and travel details. Whenever the AFP provides such information, it is a decision for that foreign law enforcement authority as to what actions they may take, including denying entry to their country. The AFP recommends that Registered Offenders seek advice from the relevant country or Cruise Ship operator prior to travel to ensure they confirm to their entry or travel requirements. Compliance with this will more than likely prevent the unnecessary loss of travel costs including airfares and accommodation.

Registered Offenders can request the AFP provide an advanced decision in relation to whether notification of International Travel to Foreign Law Enforcement Agencies will occur. Although the AFP may decide not to notify on that occasion, the AFP reserves the right to change this decision should additional information come to light prior to travel. Additionally the Registered Offender is still obliged to disclose criminal convictions, when requested, to any immigration authorities and that it is ultimately a matter for the foreign jurisdiction as to whether they will allow entry or not. Seeking an advanced decision from the AFP does not remove the Registered Offenders obligation to notify the relevant State or Territory Registrar of travel.