Controlling the ‘alien’ in mid-twentieth century Australia: the origins and fate of a policing role
MetadataShow full item record
The capacity of police to manage immigrant populations in times of conflict was developed in the course of the twentieth century through a multiplicity of techniques and strategies. Inter-agency and cross-jurisdictional capability for the ends of population surveillance and crime control was historically contingent on institutional initiatives that are rarely explored. An important origin of such capability in Australia was the Conference of Police Commissioners, first held in 1903. Its agenda after the First World War was pre-occupied with the management of aliens, the immigrant populations of Australia. This paper explores the institutional and political contexts that shaped the control of 'aliens' in Australia's early and mid-twentieth century with particular interest in the development of policing powers and techniques that operated within and without the crime control and prevention mandates that are most commonly associated with the modern public police. During these decades Australian police leaders, drawing on their own and international experience in two World Wars, expanded their vision of what policing of the alien demanded. By the early post-war years they sought universal surveillance of migrants through the still developing technologies of fingerprint and photographic databases. Their failure to achieve what they demanded at this time was a signal of their subordination in a politics of immigration that prioritised assimilation and integration of large new populations as a national undertaking.
Policing and Society
Copyright 2009 Routledge. This is an electronic version of an article published in Policing and Society, Volume 19, Issue 4, 2009, Pages 442 - 467. Policing and Society is available online at: http://www.informaworld.com with the open URL of your article.
Police Administration, Procedures and Practice
Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)