Some people may find content on this website distressing. Read more
Western Australia - Organisation

Western Australia Police Service (1853 - )

Government Agency and Records Holder
Alternative Names
  • Western Australia Police Department (previously known as, 5 March 1853 - 31 May 1995)

Police have played a significant role in out of home care in Western Australia. They have been involved in the removal of children from families, and have had the power to charge children and parents with offences under the the Criminal Code, education or child welfare legislation. Police have often been called upon to find and return children who had run away (absconded) from institutional or other out of home care placements. Their role in administering the Road Traffic Act is another way in which police have been involved in bringing children into detention. Police have always had a role in prosecuting people who harmed children in out of home care, and they have been increasingly involved with child protection and child sexual abuse matters, including the investigation of historical abuse.


From the State Records Office of Western Australia:

The history of policing in Western Australia began with the founding of the colony in 1829 when Governor Stirling appointed a few part-time constables to maintain public order in Perth and Fremantle. A troop of Mounted Police was formed in 1834 and other types of police were added as the needs of the colony changed, particularly after the introduction of convicts. The colony's Legislative Council passed a Police Ordinance in 1849 that outlined police powers and responsibilities. An organised Police Force did not as yet exist. The force was formally established in 1853, when a Chief of Police was appointed and a Code of Rules published outlining an administrative structure.

In 1861, a second and expanded Police Ordinance was passed to clarify the chain of command, the powers and responsibilities of members and the various offences they had to deal with. In that year, the force consisted of about 75 commissioned officers and men. The extent of police jurisdiction expanded with the State, and by the time the Police Act of 1892 - still largely in force - was passed, the number of members had increased three-fold. Until the era of Commissioner Robert Connell, who took rein in 1912, the management of the police was largely in the hands of colonial gentry, former military men and public servants.

Mission: To preserve the peace within the community of Western Australia.

Functions: To protect life and property; To prevent crime or detect and prosecute offenders against those laws which confer duties, powers or authority upon members of the Western Australia Police Force.

The Western Australia Police Department changed its name to that of Western Australian Police Service in May 1995.

Related Concepts

Related Events

Related Glossary Terms




  • Western Australia. Charities Department, Report by the Superintendent of Public Charities and Inspector of Industrial and Reformatory Schools, Government Printer, Perth, [W.A.], 1899-1907. 1903. Details

Online Resources

Sources used to compile this entry: 'AU WA A61 - Western Australia Police Department', in State Records Office of Western Australia - Organisations & People, State Records Office of Western Australia, 2015,; 'AU WA A944 - Western Australia Police Service', in State Records Office of Western Australia - Organisations & People, State Records Office of Western Australia, 2015,

Prepared by: Debra Rosser