Northern Territory Police Force

The Northern Territory Police Force is the police body that has legal jurisdiction over the Northern Territory of Australia. This police service has 1,537 police members (as at 31 July 2019) made up of 79 senior sergeants, 228 sergeants, 839 constables, 208 auxiliaries, and 73 Aboriginal Community Police Officers. The rest of the positions are members of commissioned rank and inoperative positions (as of 31 July 2019). It also has a civilian staff working across the NT Police, Fire and Emergency Services.

Northern Territory Police Force
Badge of the Northern Territory Police
Flag of the Northern Territory Police
AbbreviationNT Police
MottoTo Serve and Protect
Agency overview
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction Northern Territory, Australia
Northern Territory Police jurisdiction
Size1,420,970 square kilometres (548,640 sq mi)
Population245,353 (2020)
Legal jurisdictionAs per operations jurisdiction
Governing bodyGovernment of Northern Territory
General nature
Operational structure
Overviewed byIndependent Commissioner Against Corruption
HeadquartersPeter McAulay Centre, Berrimah
Darwin, NT
12°27′40″S 130°50′22″E
Sworn officers1,537 (June 2019)
Minister responsible
  • Nicole Manison, Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services
Agency executive
  • Drug and Alcohol Policy Unit
  • Domestic and Personal Violence Protection Unit
  • Indigenous Development Unit
  • Juvenile Pre-Court Diversion Scheme
  • Road Safety
  • Air Wing
  • Counter Terrorism Security Coordination Unit
  • Criminal History and Warrants Unit
  • Firearms Policy and Records Unit
  • Joint Emergency Services Communications Centre
  • Marine and Fisheries Enforcement Unit
  • Territory Response Section
Service areas
  • Darwin Metropolitan
  • Regional Operations
  • Crime and Specialist Services
Stations70 police stations and shopfronts

Police in the Northern Territory are part of a tri-service: the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services with the Commissioner of Police as the CEO of the tri-service.


The Northern Territory Police traces its roots back to the South Australian Mounted Police from 1870 when Inspector Paul Foelsche and six other police officers arrived in the Territory. A small rural constabulary (part-time force) had existed earlier but was disbanded. The Native Police Corps was formed in 1884. Their role was mostly as a security force to protect the early inhabitants of the Northern Territory than as a police force. The current NTP came into existence in 1911. In 1931, the two Territories Central and Northern became the Northern Territory of Australia and the authority of the Commissioner of Police was established in the Administrator of the Northern Territory, in Darwin.

In December 1869, the governor commissioned Paul Foelsche, a Corporal in the SA Mounted Police stationed at Strathalbyn, to be the first sub-inspector of police at Palmerston. He sailed for Darwin soon afterwards. The police uniform then worn in the Territory was the same as that worn in South Australia. It consisted of a short cut-away blue serge tunic with nine regulation buttons, silver twisted cord shoulder knots, black braid on the sleeves and silver chevrons for non-commissioned officers. The riding breeches were dark blue corkscrew serge with a white stripe.

The first firearms were a Schneider rifle or carbine, calibre .577. These were the first breech loaded rifles used in the British Army, and the original cartridges had a cardboard case. Later Martini-Henry rifles were used, and Webley revolvers were issued. Like their predecessors, the Rural Constabulary at Escape Cliffs, the first detachment of police at Palmerston had as their first responsibility the maintenance of law and order in the community.

With the discovery of gold near Pine Creek in 1872 the police found themselves with never a dull moment. Stations were established at Adelaide River, Yam Creek, Pine Creek, Roper River and later at Daly River. The first police fatality occurred in 1872 when Mounted Constable Davis, a noted swimmer, disobeyed a local Standing Order and had a dip in the sea. He was killed by a crocodile. Darwin's first police station was constructed of poles and plaster measuring 6.1 metres (20 ft) by 3.7 metres (12 ft). The inspector lived nearby in three rooms. A small stone building with two cells was the accommodation for those in custody. These are now incorporated in the Administrator's offices on the Esplanade.

In Central Australia the police were part of the South Australian Mounted Police. Mounted Constable Shirley was the first mounted trooper in charge at Alice Springs (first called Stuart). At one time there were two Commissioners of Police in the Northern Territory: one for the Territory of North Australia and one for the Territory of Central Australia. In 1931, the two Territories became the Northern Territory of Australia and the authority of the Commissioner of Police was vested in the Administrator of the Northern Territory, in Darwin.

On 1 July 1964, Clive William Graham, a police officer of long standing in the Territory, was appointed as Commissioner and the force as a whole was administered as part of the Public Service of the Northern Territory. In recent years, various cases have made national and international headlines: the end of the Petrov Affair occurred in Darwin; the 1968 month-long bush search for Larry-Boy who murdered his wife and seriously injured a stockman at Elsey Station; and the 1971 attempted hijack of a plane at Alice Springs airport in which a Territory police officer, who was badly wounded, displayed great heroism. Events connected with search and rescue operations at sea, in swamps and the desert have also made the news.[2] Auxiliaries and Aboriginal Community Police Officers. The Joint Emergency Services Communications Centre in Darwin has instant contact with all stations, vehicles, aircraft and vessels and provides for the Police, Fire, Emergency Services and St John Ambulance Service.

Female officers

Females were accepted as officers prior or from 1960.[3] In 1962, both male and female candidates had to be unmarried, male applicants aged 21 to 30 years of age, up to 35 years with previous police experience; yet female applicants had to be between 25 and 35 (unless previous police experience).[4] By 1970, only female candidates had to be unmarried.[5] Believed-to-be Australia's first female police motorcyclist, in April 1980, Constable Kate Vanderlaan rode a Honda 750 cc police special around Darwin.[6] She later rose to be a deputy commissioner of the force.[7]

Recent history

In 1955, there were 80 police officers. As of June 2011, the number of sworn Police, Auxiliaries and Aboriginal Community Police Officers in the service was 1,381.[8]

In 1989, the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services were joined to become a Tri-Service. The Commissioner of Police also becoming the Chief Executive Officer for the Fire and Rescue Service and the Emergency Services.

In July 2019, Commissioner Reece Kershaw was appointed Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, after being at the helm of NT Police for five years.[9]

In 2012, the colour of the police uniform changed from khaki to blue following a ballot in 2011 in which nearly 60% of officers voted in favour of changing the colour to blue. The roll-out of the new blue uniform, with a new design including the word "Police" displayed on the back of the shirt, started in February 2012 and finished in July 2012.[10][11]

Organisational structure

  • Commissioner: Jamie Chalker
  • Deputy Commissioner, Operations: Michael Murphy
  • Deputy Commissioner, Investigations and Capability: Michael White (Acting)
  • Assistant Commissioner, Crime and Integrity: Nick Anticich
  • Assistant Commissioner, Darwin and Support: Vacant
  • Assistant Commissioner, Regional Operations: Vacant
  • Chief Fire Officer – NT Fire and Rescue Service: Mark Spain
  • Chief Officer – NT Emergency Service: Fleur O’Connor
  • Executive Director – NT Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services: David Willing
  • Chief of Staff: James J O'Brien


Casuarina Police Station
The old Palmerston Police Station

The headquarters of the Northern Territory Police is located at NAB House on Smith Street, Darwin. The Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Services is administered from the Peter McAulay Centre in Berrimah. The Northern Territory Police maintains 63 local police stations and 5 police shopfronts coordinated by their respective Local Area Commands.[8]

A number of specialist units have been established, including the Territory Response Group, Accident Investigation Unit, Computer Crime Unit, Drug Intelligence Unit, Substance Abuse Intelligence Desk (SAID), Indigenous Development Unit, Highway Patrol Unit, Missing Persons Unit, Remote Area Traffic Patrol Unit and Air Support Unit.

Air Wing

The NT Police Air Wing was formed in 1979 with bases in Darwin and Alice Springs, operating two fixed wing aircraft. The area of operation covers 1,346,200 square kilometres (332,700,000 acres), being some 1,610 kilometres (1,000 mi) north to the south and 934 kilometres (580 mi) east to the west. This around one sixth of the Australian landmass, but is very remote, having less than 200,000 residents (1% of the national population). The commonwealth government funded an extra two planes to be based in Darwin. The planes were later handed back due to lack of money.[12]


The CitySafe and Licensing Patrol Unit was forged during New Year's Eve celebrations in 2008/2009. CitySafe was officially launched by the NT Chief Minister Paul Henderson on 25 February 2009.[13] After this was deemed a success, NT police were looking at establishing a specialist licensing enforcement unit in 2010.[14]

Bottle Shop Security

Police Auxiliaries now guard bottle shops in Katherine, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs. They are called liquor inspectors.[15]

Firearms and equipment

Officers now carry the Glock 22 or the Glock 27 .40-calibre pistol for plain clothes members. Other weapons used in the Northern Territory Police include the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle which is used by specialist groups and specifically trained members in rural areas. Officers also carry Remington model 870 pump action shotgun and Remington model 700 (.308) bolt-action rifle, which is gradually replacing the older BRNO model 601 bolt-action rifles in the same calibre. The NT Police introduced the Model X-26 Advanced TASER into operational service for General Duties members in February 2008, distributing 74 units. The X26 Taser has now been replaced with the Taser X-2.[16] as a less-lethal force option available to each frontline patrol.

Restraints used are ADI Saf-Lok Mark-IV and V handcuffs and Flexi-cuffs. Mk-6 and Mk-9 First Defense oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray are also general issue.


Toyota Hilux
Patrol boat

The Northern Territory Police mostly use LAC response vehicles include Ford Falcon sedans, Holden VE Commodore[17] and Toyota Hilux dual cab utes as caged vehicles (4x4 and 2WD) Turbo diesel.[18] Specialist vehicles include the Toyota Land Cruiser 4WD.

Highway Patrol vehicles usually consist of a combination of marked and unmarked Holden VY SS Commodores and Ford Falcon XR6II. Other specialist sections and units use a variety of police vehicles including Isuzu trucks, and fixed wing Pilatus PC-12 aeroplanes.

The Northern Territory police recently acquired Kia stingers to add to their Road Policing Command fleet.


Northern Territory Police currently use the following ranks.[19][20]

Commissioner Deputy
Commander Superintendent Senior
Sergeant Senior
first class

Officers killed on duty

  • 7 November 1883, Mounted Constable John Shirley, aged 27 years from dehydration while searching for men who had murdered a man at Lawson's Creek.[21]
  • 1 August 1933, mounted constable Albert Stewart McColl was speared to death at Woodah Island in Arnhem Land.[21]
  • 17 August 1948, Constable Maxwell Gilbert, aged 27 years when the vehicle he was driving overturned just north of Wauchope. He was escorting a prisoner to Alice Springs.[21]
  • 9 June 1952, constable William Bryan Condon was shot twice after confronting a gunman.[21]
  • 16 June 1967, inspector Louis Hook died from extensive injuries from a rollover near Pine Creek.[21]
  • 9 June 1970, sergeant Colin Eckert was killed in a head-on collision in Katherine.[21]
  • 11 December 1981, senior constable Allen Price aged 44 years died of a heart attack while attempting to stop a disturbance in Mataranka.[21]
  • 29 January 1984, detective sergeant Ian Bradford died when the police vehicle he was a passenger in went over the edge of the wharf in Darwin.[21]
  • 3 August 1999, Brevet sergeant Glen Huitson was killed in a gun battle with bushman Rodney Ansell on the Stuart Highway.[21]

Indigenous deaths associated with police contact

  • In 1882 Constable Augustus Lucanus and Corporal George Montagu led a punitive expedition where a number of Aboriginal people were shot dead.[22]
  • In September of 1884, ex-Constable Augustus Lucanus led a punitive expedition which "dispersed" two large "mobs" of Aboriginal people.[23]
  • In 1886 Constable William Curtis led a punitive expedition that resulted in 52 Aboriginal people being shot dead and another 12 falling to their deaths.[24][25]
  • In 1928, the Coniston massacre took place. A number of police officers shot dead dozens of Aboriginal Australians in Coniston. Constable William George Murray, who led the massacre was acquitted.[26] In 2018 the then Commissioner of NT Police Reece Kershaw, issued an apology for the agencies involved in the massacre.[27]
  • In 2009 Constables Corey Brown and Jason Mather dragged Aboriginal man Cedric Trigger along a watch-house floor after he had fallen out of the back of their police wagon onto concrete while handcuffed and left him face-down where he died of a subdural haemorrhage.[28]
  • In 2012 Constable Gareth Evans dragged Aboriginal man Kwementyaye Briscoe along a watch-house floor, threw him into a counter and left him face-down on a mattress with his neck twisted against a concrete block where he died.[29][30]
  • In 2019 Constable Zachary Brian Rolfe shot dead Kumanjayi Walker as he resisted arrest, causing a shallow wound in Rolfe's shoulder with a pair of scissors. Rolfe was charged with murder, the prosecution arguing that only the first shot was justified and the second and third shots fired by Rolfe were excessive. Rolfe was acquitted of all charges by a jury that found Rolfe was acting in self-defence.[31]


On 17 August 1980, an infant Azaria Chamberlain and her family members were camping near Ayers Rock. It was alleged the girl was snatched away by a dingo, but for a number of reasons, the parents were extradited to the Northern Territory and their vehicle seized. The parents Michael and Lindy Chamberlain were criminally charged and convicted; later overturned in 1988. A review of the forensic science section,[32] a royal commission, and several inquests were held into the police investigation and cause of Azaria's death.[33]


RankNamePost-nominalsTerm beganTerm endedNotes
Commissioner of the Northern Territory Police
Paul Heinrich Matthias Foelsche18701904
Nicholas John Waters19051923
MajorGeorge Vernon Dudley19241927
The Office of Commissioner was held by the Government Resident, a position now known as the Administrator of the Northern Territory
Clive William Graham19641966
Sydney James Bowie19661967
William James McLaren19671978
CommissionerPeter McAulayAO, QPM19781988
CommissionerMick PalmerAO, APM19881994
Brian Charles Bates19942001
Paul Cameron White20012009
John McRoberts20092014[34]
Reece Kershaw20142019
Jamie Chalker2019present

See also


  1. "A message from the Acting Commissioner of Police Police". Northern Territory Police. 15 August 2019. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  2. "In the Line of Duty". Australian Federal Police. Retrieved 24 March 2008.
  3. "Northern Territory. Police Force. Vacancies". Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. No. 61. 1 September 1960. p. 3145. Retrieved 19 December 2021 via National Library of Australia.
  4. "Advertising". The Canberra Times. Vol. 36, no. 10, 171. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 12 March 1962. p. 7. Retrieved 19 December 2021 via National Library of Australia.
  5. "Advertising". The Canberra Times. Vol. 45, no. 12, 713. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 3 October 1970. p. 8. Retrieved 19 December 2021 via National Library of Australia.
  6. "Policewoman". The Canberra Times. Vol. 54, no. 16, 273. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 15 April 1980. p. 12. Retrieved 18 December 2021 via National Library of Australia.
  7. "HerStory: Kate VANDERLAAN". Women's Museum of Australia and Old Gaol Alice Springs. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  8. Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services Annual Report 2010–11, Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services, June 2011.
  9. James, Felicity (24 July 2019). "Australia's new police commissioner: Who is Reece Kershaw?". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  10. "New NT Police uniform". The Drum - The Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Service eMagazine. Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Service. 2 February 2012. Archived from the original on 2 May 2013.
  11. "Changeover of the NT Police uniform". The Drum - The Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Service eMagazine. Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Service. 20 July 2012. Archived from the original on 2 May 2013.
  12. "Secret documents show how far NT Police are going to save millions of dollars and meet budget cuts". 10 August 2018.(subscription required)
  13. "CitySafe Night Patrol on the Beat in the City" Archived 17 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine NT Government, 2009.
  14. Trifonoff, Allan; et al. "Liquor licensing legislation in Australia: Part 3: Police expectations and experiences" (PDF). An examination of Liquor Licensing Legislation in Australia as at December 2010. Commissioned by the Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs through the National Drug Strategy Cost Shared Funding Model. Retrieved 24 October 2019. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. "Auxiliary Police Officer". Archived from the original on 31 July 2019.
  16. "Northern Territory Police introduce TASER". Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services. Retrieved 24 March 2008.
  17. "Northern Territory Police vehicles". Australian Police Vehicles Website. Retrieved 24 March 2008.
  18. "Northern Territory Police assorted vehicles". Australian Police Cars. Retrieved 24 March 2008.
  19. "New NT Police Uniform – Alice Springs and Southern Region Command". NT Police, Fire, and Emergency Services. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  20. "Graduating officer Liam Devine with NT Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw". 12 January 2019. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  21. "National Memorial Honours Our Police". Northern Territory Government. Retrieved 24 March 2008.
  22. "GOLDFIELDS OF THE NORTH". The Daily News. Vol. XLVIII, no. 16, 944. Western Australia. 23 August 1929. p. 6 (HOME FINAL EDITION). Retrieved 19 March 2022 via National Library of Australia.
  23. "GOLDFIELDS OF THE NORTH". The Daily News. Vol. XLVIII, no. 16, 942. Western Australia. 21 August 1929. p. 6 (HOME FINAL EDITION). Retrieved 19 March 2022 via National Library of Australia.
  24. Roberts, Tony (2005). Frontier justice. St Lucia: UQP.
  25. "OLD TIME MEMORIES". Northern Standard. No. 42. Northern Territory, Australia. 1 June 1934. p. 3. Retrieved 18 March 2022 via National Library of Australia.
  26. "13 Nov 1928 - NATIVE SLAUGHTER - Trove".
  27. "NT police apologise for state-sanctioned Coniston Massacre of Aboriginal people". ABC News. 24 August 2018.
  28. Cavanagh, Greg. "Inquest into the death of Cedric Trigger" (PDF). Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  29. Horn, Allyson (12 June 2012). "Aboriginal death in custody inquest begins". ABC News. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  30. "'Dumb insolence' and the quest for truth in the death of Kwementyaye Briscoe". crikey. 3 July 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  31. Breen, Jacqueline (11 March 2022). "NT police officer Zachary Rolfe found not guilty of murder over fatal shooting of Kumanjayi Walker". ABC News. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  32. "Police head orders forensic review". The Canberra Times. Vol. 55, no. 16, 585. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 21 February 1981. p. 1. Retrieved 19 December 2021 via National Library of Australia.
  33. "Dingo took Azaria Chamberlain, coroner finds". 12 June 2012.
  34. "NT Police Commissioner John McRoberts forced out after investigation into a conflict of interest". NT News. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2015.

Further reading

  • Debnam, Lawrie.(1990) Men of the Northern Territory Police 1870–1914 : who they were and where they were Elizabeth, S. Aust. L. Debnam. ISBN 0-949124-62-1
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.