Crime in the Northern Territory

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Crime in the Northern Territory is managed by the Northern Territory Police (law enforcement), the territory government's Department of the Attorney-General and Justice (courts and prisons) and Northern Territory Families (youth justice and detention centres).

Data collated over the 10 years up to 2015 by the Australian Institute of Criminology's National Homicide Monitoring Program showed that the NT consistently had a higher rate for murder and manslaughter than anywhere else in Australia.[1]


There are several massacres of indigenous people recorded within what is today the Northern Territory, both before and after federation.

Notable crimes[edit]

  • 1 August 1933 – Constable Albert McColl murdered; Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda sentenced to death in a controversial trial; sentence later overturned by the High Court.[2]
  • April 1951 Aboriginal woman Jawanelli speared to death by her traditional husband Patipatu at Haasts Bluff.
  • 5 January 1977 — Connellan air disaster, murder-suicide when a sacked pilot deliberately flew a light aircraft into Connair building, Alice Springs airport
  • 23 June 1983 – Martin Leach stabbed Charmaine Ariet to death and stabbed, raped and killed her cousin Janice Carnegie.
  • 18 August 1983 – Douglas Crabbe rammed his 25-ton Mack truck into a motel bar at the base of Uluru, killing 5 people.
  • 1999 – Rodney Ansell, inspiration for the 1986 film, Crocodile Dundee, killed Sergeant Glen Hutison before being killed by police.[3]
  • 2001 – Peter Falconio disappearance – British tourist disappears on 14 July 2001[4]
  • March 2004 – Drowning murder of Thai sex workers Phuangsri Kroksamrang and Somjai Insamnan were bound and thrown into the Adelaide River, where they drowned, by teenagers Ben William McLean and Phu Ngoc Trinh.[5]
  • 2 February 2010 – Bombing of Darwin shopping mall: A disgruntled customer used a trolley based device and bombed the Territory Insurance Office in Darwin City injuring 15.[6]
  • April 2012 - Teenagers Bruce Impu, Ginger Green and Norman Kernan rob and subsequently gang rape two European tourists at gunpoint in Alice Springs
  • 2014-2014 AFL player Liam Jurrah was charged with four counts of aggravated assault and later further aggravated assault for attacking a woman, causing her harm, and allegedly making threats with a tyre iron and a knife in Alice Springs.
  • February 2015 Swimming pool manager Jupurrula Berry murdered by two teenagers in Aboriginal community during a car theft in the Aboriginal community of Yuendemu
  • December 2016. French tourist stabbed to death at roadside rest area north of Alice Springs
  • August 2017- Two German tourists raped in Katherine
  • February 2018 - Two year old girl raped in Tennant Creek in a house in which a person had been fatally bashed three weeks previously.
  • November 2018. 11 year old girl stabbed multiple times by her 18 year old partner in Hermannsburg
  • 5 June 2019. Darwin shooting Five people killed and another injured during a shooting spree by a Darwin man.

Crime in Alice Springs[edit]

Crime is a significant social issue Alice Springs.[7][8][9][10] Alice Springs has the highest crime rate of any Australian city, with raw crime numbers higher than Darwin, a city with three times the population and a record of high crime.[11] Violent crime in the town in 2010 was at unprecedented levels[12] and "out of control".[13] Alice Springs is the nation’s murder capital and one of the most dangerous towns in Australia[14] The level of crime has had a major impact on the town’s tourist industry[15] with tourists from several countries being warned to avoid the town or take extra precautions.[15][16]


The high crime rate is due to conditions in Alice Springs Aboriginal communities;[17][18][19] the Aboriginal town camps of Alice Springs are notorious for their drinking, violence and substandard conditions.[20] Assaults are common in Aboriginal town camps and 95 per cent of people in the town fleeing domestic violence are indigenous;[17] the level of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities has been described as "out of control" by the Northern Territory Coroner.[21] The Indigenous camps of Alice Springs were described by the Minister for Indigenous Affairs as "murder capitals".[22] Crime rates in Alice Springs Aboriginal communities reached crisis point in 2013, leading to the local government called an emergency meeting of Territory government, police and other stakeholders.[23]

The over-representation of Aboriginal people is also attributable in part to Aboriginal people moving into Alice Springs from more remote communities.[18][24]

Violent crime[edit]

Violent crime is common in Alice Springs, mostly involving Aboriginal people, especially between spouses or young men.[25] Most murders and many rapes are committed in the dry Todd River bed.[26] Most of Alice Springs’ many murders victims are Aboriginal and a high proportion women. Most assault victims are also Aboriginal, although some non-Indigenous people have also been assaulted.[26] Alice Springs' population of Aboriginal residents is over-represented as offenders in violent crimes, accounting for over three quarters of assault offenders.[27]

Youth crime[edit]

Youth crime is a serious problem in Alice Springs, especially at night when large numbers of youths wander the streets of the town unsupervised, committing assaults and burglaries, vandalising property and throwing rocks at moving vehicles[28][29][30] The youth crime problem is attributed to Indigenous people coming to town from remote communities to escape the "NT Intervention",[31][29] with some children using government funded public transport to travel hundreds of kilometres from remote communities to Alice springs unaccompanied.[28] Local MP Chansey Paech objected to this as unfairly blaming children from remote areas, noting that a large proportion of problem youth are from Alice Springs;[28] the youth crime problem in Alice Springs is also attributed to children roaming at night to avoid abuse and domestic violence at home.[28][29]

Youths throwing rocks at cars at cars travelling the streets in Alice is an ongoing problem with many vehicles damaged and several people seriously injured.[32][33][34][35][36] Emergency services workers, including police[35][36]and ambulance[33] have also been the target of rock attacks by youths.


In 2009 there were 1432 recorded assaults in Alice Springs,[9] with 65% of assaults involving alcohol.[9][37] Reported assaults had almost doubled since 2004;[9] the Territory's Southern Region Police Commander, Anne-Marie Murphy said that itinerancy, domestic violence and alcohol were the main factors driving up crime rates.[9]

In the 2009-10 financial year, the Northern Territory Justice Department's Quarterly Crime & Justice Statistics report recorded that there were 1632 reported cases of theft, and 906 reports of property damage in Alice Springs.[38][39] 774 homes and businesses were broken into during the 2009-10 financial year.[38][39]

The NT Justice Department's Quarterly Crime & Justice Statistics report documented increases across multiple categories of crime in Alice Springs in the 6 years between the 2004-05 and the 2009-10 reporting periods.[39] Recorded cases of assault rose by 87%,[39] sexual assault offences rose by 97%,[39] and house break-ins increased by 64%.[39]

Break-ins to commercial premises rose by 185%,[39] and 'motor vehicle theft and related offences' increased by 97%[39] on 2004-05 figures.[39]

2015 saw national concern focused on youth crime in Alice Springs, including incidents in which rocks were thrown at police.[40][41]

Between 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, crime rose significantly in Alice Springs. Assaults increased 15.4%, sexual assaults skyrocketed 36.2%, commercial break-ins rose 18.3%, motor vehicle theft 28.1% and property damage 12.3%.[42]

Response to crime[edit]

In 2008, the Alice Springs town council began to hire private security guards to patrol the town, at a cost of $5000 per week;[10] the Northern Territory government has been accused of underfunding social services for Aboriginal people in Alice Springs,[10] as part of a wider problem of underfunding across central Australia.[10] Alice Springs Mayor Damien Ryan has indicated that crime has increased as more people migrated into the city from remote communities.[43]

Some long-time residents of Alice Springs have moved away as a direct result of crime concerns.[7] Local businesses have spent increased amounts to upgrade the physical security of their premises from property crime,[43][38] including the use of high security fences, razor wire and security cameras.[43][38]

Crime in Darwin[edit]

Psychological effects of crime in the Northern Territory[edit]

The Australian Institute of Crime's 2014 Northern Territory Safe Streets Audit found that factors that contributed to a heightened fear of crime in the Northern Territory were that people in the Northern Territory are more likely to have been a victim of crime in the past and this increases their fear the increased risk of being a victim of both violent and property crime. Another explanation may be a perception that crime is more frequent and serious than it actually is, although data on perceived crime trends and the perceived risk of victimisation, specific to the Northern Territory, were not available to the report authors. [44]

The Audit analysed articles in the Centralian Advocate, NT News and Sunday Territorian for the first week of May in 2010, 2011 and 2012 showed that between six and 10 percent of news coverage was devoted to crime. Crimes involving violence, especially sexual violence, were over-represented compared with other crime types. Although victims’ and offenders’ indigeneity were typically not identified, crimes featuring indigenous offenders and non-Indigenous victims received greater coverage than other crimes in the weeks analysed;[44] however the report noted that fear reduction strategies were not as effective as targeting actual crime and offending.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Moulton, Emily (7 July 2015). "The Northern Territory has the highest homicide rate in Australia". Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 January 2006. Retrieved 9 November 2005. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 October 2004. Retrieved 9 November 2005. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Murdoch found guilty". The Age. 14 December 2005. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Teens sentenced to life for croc-river murders". The Age. 20 March 2005. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  6. ^ "Category: - NT News". Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  7. ^ a b Rothwell, Nicolas (19 February 2011). "Violence in Alice spirals out of control". The Australian. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  8. ^ Rothwell, Nicolas (8 February 2011). "Destroyed in Alice". The Australian. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d e Tlozek, Eric (31 March 2010). "Alice crime rates reach unprecedented levels". ABC Online. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d Robinson, Natasha (22 December 2008). "Down like Alice the meltdown of a tourism mecca". The Australian. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  11. ^ "We beat Darwin – in crime – Alice Springs News".
  12. ^ "Alice crime rates reach unprecedented levels". ABC News.
  13. ^ "Violence in Alice spirals out of control". The Australian.
  14. ^ "Welcome to Australia's most dangerous town".
  15. ^ a b "Foreign travellers warned about visiting Alice Springs". 15 March 2017.
  16. ^ Webb, Carolyn (15 March 2017). "Foreign tourists warned on Alice Springs safety risks". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  17. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 July 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ a b "Trouble in Alice Springs". 24 March 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  19. ^ ""Big problems" in Alice Springs".
  20. ^ Skelton, Russell (26 May 2011). "No town like Alice". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  21. ^ "Domestic violence 'out of control in NT Aboriginal communities'". 21 September 2016.
  22. ^ Thalia Anthony. "Governing Crime in the Northern Territory Intervention" (PDF). Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  23. ^ "Walkout sinks town camp safety summit hopes". ABC News.
  24. ^ "Get off Facebook and help us, NT Police tell Alice Springs residents". ABC News.
  25. ^ ""Big problems" in Alice Springs - Inside Story". 25 February 2011.
  26. ^ a b Finnane, Mark; Finnane, Kieran (2011). "A death in Alice Springs" (PDF). Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  27. ^ Criminology, Australian Institute of (14 March 2019). "Publications search". Australian Institute of Criminology. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  28. ^ a b c d Sinclair, Corey “Youth in Crisis” Centralian Advocate 14 July 2014 pp 4-5
  29. ^ a b c "Destroyed in Alice". 18 February 2011.
  30. ^ "Troubled youth need help, not hate".
  31. ^ [1]
  32. ^ "Rock-throwing youths in Alice Springs will be taken into child protection: Giles". 16 April 2015.
  33. ^ a b "Ambulance struck in rock attack".
  34. ^ "Alice Springs woman attacked by rock throwers".
  35. ^ a b "Rock throwing film calls on kids to make the right choices".
  36. ^ a b "Rocks thrown at police, windows broken, vehicles damaged in Alice Springs". 14 April 2015.
  37. ^ Chlanda, Erwin (31 January 2012). "Alcohol by far enemy number one in crime fight". Alice Springs News Online. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  38. ^ a b c d Hainke, Nadja (19 February 2011). "Alice crime tsunami building tension". Northern Territory News. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  40. ^ Davidson, Helen (17 April 2015). "'Nothing is off the table' in NT taskforce to tackle rising youth crime". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  41. ^ "Rocks thrown at police, windows broken and vehicles damaged during wild night in Alice Springs". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. ABC. 13 April 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  42. ^ "Alice Springs - NT Police".
  43. ^ a b c Schliebs, Mark (21 February 2011). "Besieged Alice Springs businesses resort to razor wire". The Australian. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  44. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 April 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]