28 January 2024

Retiring chief police officer's leadership leaves ACT 'unquestionably safer' after four years in top job

| Claire Fenwicke
Start the conversation
ACT Policing Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan

Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan is leaving the top job after four years guiding ACT Policing. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

The Territory’s longest-serving Chief Police Officer, Neil Gaughan, has announced he’s retiring in less than two months.

He sent an internal email to ACT Policing staff announcing his last day in the top job will be 22 March.

Deputy Commissioner Gaughan has been part of the Australian Federal Police for more than 40 years, spending the past four guiding the Territory’s police force as the CPO.

Police and Crime Prevention Minister Mick Gentleman said he’d been informed about CPO Gaughan’s intentions to retire on Monday (22 January).

“He has led [ACT Policing] with distinction over that period, helping protect the territory through the COVID-19 pandemic as well as leading the police response to large-scale sovereign citizen protests in the capital,” he said

“The government has worked with the CPO on significant social reforms and has always valued his input into those reforms, and he leaves ACT Policing in a stronger position.”

Similar sentiments were shared by Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Anthony Williamson SC.

Mr Williamson has been working closely with CPO Gaughan in the wake of the Board of Inquiry report to further improve what he said was already a “strong” relationship between the DPP and police.

“It is no secret that on rare occasions police and prosecutors don’t see eye to eye on how individual matters should progress,” he said.

“But under Neil’s leadership, we have been able to have difficult conversations and navigate a way forward that best serves victims of crime and the ACT criminal justice system.”

Mr Williamson described CPO Gaughan as a highly professional police officer, a “strong and effective leader”, and ultimately a “champion” of the ACT community.

“His legacy will include the substantial inroads that ACT Policing has made in investigating a number of homicide cold cases, implementing effective strategies to limit the footprint of outlaw motorcycle gangs in the Territory, and his progressive approach to the investigation and sexual offence matters,” he said.

“The ACT community is unquestionably safer as a result of Neil’s time as the Territory’s top cop.”

The Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) also thanked CPO Gaughan for his leadership.

President Alex Caruana said the stability CPO Gaughan’s leadership had provided for the organisation had been “overwhelmingly positive and beneficial” for both ACT Policing and the community.

“Neil and I have had an excellent relationship where we are both comfortable with our ability to work together in all situations,” he said.

“[Deputy Commissioner] Gaughan has also been the AFP’s lead negotiator for the upcoming enterprise agreement, and we have talked positively and frequently about improving workplace conditions for all AFP appointees. I look forward to further discussions with him over the next few weeks before his retirement.”

CPO Gaughan spent the first 15 years of his policing career within ACT Policing, working in a variety of roles across general duties, diplomatic protection unit, accident investigation squad, criminal investigations, the sexual assault and child abuse team, and professional standards.

He was Counter Terrorism Assistant Commissioner for the AFP from 2013 to 2017, helping develop the contemporary Australian counter-terrorism policy, contributing to national countering violent extremism strategies, and working to combat terrorism regionally and internationally.

CPO Gaughan was also previously the AFP’s Organised Crime Assistant Commissioner and was promoted to Deputy Commissioner in 2018 to lead the AFP’s response to disrupting serious and organised criminal networks, countering cybercrime, leading national responses to human exploitation and managing the AFP’s international engagement.

More recently, he signalled domestic and family violence, along with the increasing presence of outlaw motorcycle gangs in the ACT, would be major focuses for Canberra’s police in 2024.

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw is undertaking the process of finding CPO Gaughan’s replacement, which will be announced in due course.

Original Article published by Claire Fenwicke on Riotact.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.