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272 Note by Department of External Affairs on Police Training

Canberra, June 1954

Police Training for Asian Nationals in Australia

We have had four enquiries or requests for training of their nationals in police methods in Australia from Thailand, Ceylon, Burma and Pakistan respectively. The requests from Thailand, Ceylon and Pakistan were made under the Colombo Plan; that from Burma, though originally arranged under the Colombo Plan, was eventually directly financed by the Burmese Government outside the Plan.

2. Details of these requests and our reactions to these are set out below following a brief description of our general attitude to this type of request under the Colombo Plan.

Australian attitude under the Colombo Plan

3. Our general attitude on this subject was set out by Mr. Amott in a note to the Acting Secretary on 28th May, 1953.1 Mr. Amott pointed out that in Asian countries the civil police organisation is an important branch of public administration. One of the more important functions of the junior civil servant in oriental countries with a colonial history and a large village population is that of a police magistrate as well as supervisor of the police units themselves. The Cabinet discussions and decisions which form the basic authority for the expenditure of the Australian contribution to the Colombo Plan emphasise the objective of peace and stability in South and South East Asia. In the paper submitted to Cabinet in connection with submission 149 of 1st August, 19502, the Minister for External Affairs stated 'Short of armed force, economic and technical assistance directed to improving the efficiency of administrations are the only methods open to us of maintaining stable democratic governments in the area'. An efficient police system is a fundamental aid to the smooth functioning of organised government. While we in Australia take the police forces for granted this assumption is not valid for Asian countries and the latter's need for assistance in this field is a gap we should be anxious to fill. It is in any case in our own interests to do this because we (and the United Kingdom) frequently need the co-operation and assistance of local police authorities abroad sometimes on matters important to security. Often in practice that co-operation however willingly given has been less effective than could be desired solely because of the inherent inefficiency of the organisation.

Thai request (T.A. File: 2010/5/2)

4. In October, 1951, the Australian Consulate-General reported that it had received an informal enquiry from the Thai Police Department as to whether Australia could offer training in police methods, including usual police functions, crime investigation etc. The Thai request was sent to our posts in Colombo and Singapore for advice and both of these in their replies stated that they thought it either unwise or outside the scope of the Technical Co-operation Scheme. After discussion within the Department a memorandum No. 45 of 31st January, 19523 was sent to Bangkok which requested the post to seek further particulars to enable additional enquiries to be made. No reply to this memorandum is to be found on our file and the matter appears closed at this point.

Ceylon request (T.A. File: 2010/3/221)

5. In December, 1953, our post in Colombo informed us that Mr. Raju Coomaraswamy had told them that Ceylon might be applying to Australia for aid in Police training. Coomaraswamy said that the Inspector-General of Police, Sir Richard Aluwihare, hoped that training might be available if and when any of Ceylon's Police Officers were in Australia for one reason or another.

6. In January, 1954, Assistant Superintendent Van der Straaten of the Ceylon Police was nominated by his Government to undertake a course in police training in Australia and was awarded a senior fellowship for three months by the Australian Government. Van der Straaten's course included training in the State Police Departments in Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia together with brief periods in the Department of Trade and Customs in each of these states, with special emphasis on scientific methods of investigation and detection of crime. As in all these cases Van der Straaten was not shown the workings of either the A.S.I.O. or the special branches of the State Police Departments. Van der Straaten departed Australia for Ceylon on 29th May, 1954.

Pakistan request (T. A. File: 2010/2/73)

7. Recently a request was received from the Government of Pakistan as to whether Australia would accept officers of the Pakistan Police Service for training in Australia under the Technical Co-operation Scheme and on 19th October, 1953, the Minister approved the expenditure of up to �11,380 to cover the cost of training up to a dozen Pakistan police officers over the three years (1954, 1955, and 1956), for courses of study and observation in Australia at senior fellowship rates. We were recently informed by Karachi that the Pakistan Ministry of the Interior were anxious for training to commence as soon as possible with emphasis on the following subjects:

a) Australian police organisation and set-up;

b) Methods of criminal investigation;

c) Co-ordination between Civil and Police authorities;

d) Training School (Methods of Training);

e) Traffic;

f) Scientific Aids for detection and prevention of crimes and general study of social conditions.

8. The Public Service Board is now endeavouring to arrange the above training with the State police forces.

Burmese request (T.A. File: 2015/40)

9. On 25th March, 1953, our Legation in Rangoon notified us that the Burmese Bureau of Special Investigation desired that several of its special officers be given the opportunity to study investigation methods adopted by police authorities in Malaya, Indonesia and Australia. The Burmese Foreign Office later forwarded to our Legation a request that two senior Investigation Officers from its Bureau should spend a period of a week each in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra 'to make a general study of police methods of detection and investigation'. On 29th May, 1953, the Minister approved that the cost of the visit should be met out of the Technical Assistance funds, but subsequently the Burmese Government advised that it desired to depute its two officers to study in Australia at its own expense. The two Burmese officers U Po Thant and U Chit arrived in Australia on 8th November, 1953, and after short visits to the Police Departments in Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney as well as a short period with the Commonwealth Investigation Service, departed Australia on 5th December, 1953.

[NAA: A1838, 3004/11 part 2]

1 Not published.

2 Document 79.

3 Not published.

Last Updated: 10 January 2017

Category: International relations

Topic: History