Northern Territory Police

Northern Territory Police
Northern Territory Police
Northern Territory Logo.png
Logo of the Northern Territory Police.
Motto To Serve and Protect
Agency overview
Formed 1911
Employees 1,081
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* States and territories of Australia of Northern Territory, Australia
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters NAB Building
71 Smith Street,
Darwin, NT 0800
12°27′40″S 130°50′22″E / 12.4612°S 130.8394°E / -12.4612; 130.8394Coordinates: 12°27′40″S 130°50′22″E / 12.4612°S 130.8394°E / -12.4612; 130.8394
Elected officer responsible Paul Henderson, Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services
Agency executive John McRoberts, Commissioner
Stations 36
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Northern Territory Police (NTP) is the police body that has legal jurisdiction over the Northern Territory of Australia. This police service has 1302 gazetted police positions (as at 31 July 2011) made up of 55 Senior Sergeants, 200 Sergeants, 741 Constables, 159 Auxiliaries, and 84 Aboriginal Community Police Officers. The rest of the positions are members of Commissioned rank and 10 inoperative positions (as of 31 July 2011). It also has a civilian staff of 297 across 48 stations.

Police in the Northern Territory are part of a "Tri-Service": the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Service with the Commissioner of Police, Mr John McRoberts, APM as the CEO of the "Tri Service". Sworn Police Officers can be required to serve anywhere where a police presence is required in the Northern Territory including remote Aboriginal communities in Arnhem Land and outback Northern Territory.

Sworn Police can be recruited in two divisions: Police Constables and Police Auxiliaries. The motto of the Northern Territory Police Force is “To Serve and Protect”.



The NTP 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 20 ft by 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. Since 1955 the size of the Northern Territory Police Force has increased significantly in line with the population. In 1955 there were 80 police officers. Today the establishment numbers 1030 sworn Police,[1] 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.

Recent History

In 1955 there were 80 police officers. Today the establishment numbers 1081 sworn Police, Auxiliaries and Aboriginal Community Police Officers. 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 Service.

Organisational Structure

  • Commissioner : John McRoberts
  • Deputy Commissioner : Shane Maines
  • Assistant Commissioner, Crime and Support Service : Reece Kershaw
  • Assistant Commissioner, Darwin Metropolitan: Grahame Kelly
  • Assistant Commissioner, Regional Operations: Mark Payne
  • Director/Chief Fire Office, Fire & Rescue Service: Steve Rothwell
  • Director, Northern Territory Emergency Service: Peter Davies


  • 1870 - 1904 Paul Heinrich Matthias Foelsche
  • 1904 - 1923 Nicholas John Waters
  • 1924 - 1927 Major George Vernon Dudley
  • 1927 - 1964 the Office of Commissioner was held by the Government Resident, a position now known as the Administrator of the Northern Territory
  • 1964 - 1966 Clive William Graham
  • 1966 - 1967 Sydney James Bowie
  • 1967 - 1978 William James McLaren
  • 1978 - 1988 Ronald (Peter) McAulay
  • 1988 - 1994 Michael John Palmer
  • 1994 - 2001 Brian Charles Bates
  • 2001 - 2009 Paul Cameron White
  • 2009 - John McRoberts


Casuarina Police Station
Palmerston Police Station

The headquarters of the Northern Territory Police is located at the Mitchell Centre on Mitchell Street.[2] The Northern Territory Police maintains over 36 local police stations coordinated by their respective Local Area Commands.

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.

Traffic Enforcement/Crash Investigation

After a record road toll of 75 in the year 2008. NT Police and the NT Government have jointly demonstrated their unwaivering commitment to road safety in the Territory. As a result of this commitment, there are currently 8 members in the Darwin region responsible for traffic enforcement, major crash investigation, special events, traffic campaigns, escort duties and general duties taskings as required.

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 km2, being some 1610 km North to the South and 934 km 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 CitySafe & 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 the 25th of February, 2009.[3] The CitySafe unit is staffed by 10 members being 2 Sergeants and 8 Constables.

Firearms and equipment

Officers now carry the Glock 22 or the Glock 27 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.[4] as a less lethal force option available to each frontline patrol.

Restraints used are Mk-IV and V Saf-Lok Handcuffs and Flexi-cuffs. Mk-6 and Mk-9 First Defense Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) Spray are also general issue.


Mobile speed camera unit
Northern Territory Police caged Hilux

The Northern Territory Police mostly use LAC response vehicles include Ford Falcon sedans, Holden VE Commodore[5] and Toyota Hilux dual cab utes as caged vehicles (4x4 and 2wheel)Turbo diesel.[6] 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.

Officers Killed on Duty

  • 7 November 1883, Mounted Constable John Shirley Died 7 November 1883, aged 27 years from dehydration while searching for men who had murdered a man at Lawson’s Creek.[7]
  • 1 August 1933, Mounted Constable Albert Stewart McColl was speared to death at Woodah Island in Arnhem Land.[7]
  • 17 August 1948, Constable Maxwell Gilbert Died 17 August 1948, aged 27 years when the vehicle he was driving overturned just north of Wauchope. He was escorting a prisoner to Alice Springs.[7]
  • 9 June 1952, Constable William Bryan Condon was shot twice after confronting an armed gunman.[7]
  • 16 June 1967, Inspector Louis Hook died from extensive injuries from a rollover near Pine Creek.[7]
  • 9 June 1970, Sergeant Colin Eckert was killed in a head-on collision in Katherine.[7]
  • 11 December 1981, Senior Constable Allen Price aged 44 years died of a heart attack while attempting to stop a disturbance in Mataranka.[7]
  • 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.[7]
  • 3 August 1999, Brevet Sergeant Glen Huitson was killed in a gun battle on the Stuart Highway.[7]

See also


  1. ^ "In the Line of Duty". Australian Federal Police. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  2. ^ "Contact Us". Northern Territory Police. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  3. ^ "CitySafe Night Patrol on the Beat in the City" NT Government, 2009
  4. ^ "Northern Territory Police introduce TASER". Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  5. ^ "Northern Territory Police Vehicles". Australian Police Vehicles Website. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  6. ^ "Northern Territory Police Assorted Vehicles". Australian Police Cars. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "National Memorial Honours Our Police". Northern Territory Government. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 

External links

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 0949124621

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