AGY-1224 | New South Wales Police Special Branch

NSW State Archives Collection
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Full description

In 1948, the New South Wales Police Department established the Special Branch Unit to liaise with military intelligence units, the former D Branch and later the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to monitor subversive activity and assist in the maintenance of national security. The Special Branch was modelled on New Scotland Yard’s Special Branch and took the same name.

During the Cold War era (1947-1949) the major focus of the Special Branch was the investigation and monitoring of members and sympathisers of the Communist Party or other left wing political, industrial or cultural groups. Later the focus of the branch changed with the rise in international terrorism during the 1960’s.

The activities of the Special Branch included

* advising the Commissioner of Police of any violence or civil disorder likely to occur as a result of the actions of subversive or extremist groups in the State, so that preventable measures could be taken

* providing the Commissioner with intelligence about proposed demonstrations and protests where breaches of the peace may occur so that adequate policing could be arranged

* gathering information on the activities of various factions within the ethnic communities so that preventative action could be taken to avoid outbreaks of violence between opposition groups or against Consular representatives and premises within New South Wales. Where such outbreaks have occurred and injury or damage has resulted, assisting investigating police to detect the person or persons responsible

* assisting Police arrangements to provide security escorts for visits to New South Wales by Religious leaders, Royal persons, Heads of Government, or high profile figures from overseas. Similar duties would be carried out in respect of the Governor-General, State Governor, Prime Minister, State Premiers and members of Federal and State Parliaments

* supplying Special Branch intelligence to the Regional Director of ASIO through the Commissioner of Police and to the State Government again via the Commissioner who advised the Premier

* conducting or assisting with major investigations

* answering Ministerial inquiries - this involved the supply of information to the Minister to enable him to answer queries received from other members of Parliament, from consulates, and from constituents of Members about matters within the responsibility of the Special Branch

* providing security reviews and security advice where necessary

* checking details on the character of persons when requested by Ministers, future employers or others.

* providing security training for NSW Police and other government personnel who have responsibility for the safety of VIP visitors.

On 12 March 1997, the Commissioner of Police disbanded the Special Branch. This was in response to investigations by the Royal Commission into the New South Wales Police Service and later the Police Integrity Commission.

This registration is based on material supplied by NSW Police Service, Corporate Archives.

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