A force apart?
a history of the Northern Territory Police Force 1870-1926

  • William Richard Wilson

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    During the 130 years of its existence, the Northern Territory Police Force has widely been considered different to other Australian police forces. Despite the assessment that the force is unique, it has never been studied to determine what factors influenced it during its formative years. This study examines the factors that were central to the development of the force. The study emphasises the men who served in the force, their families, the culture of the Northern Territory and cross-cultural contacts. The examination, in focussing on these issues, embraces subjects as diverse as crime, colonisation, the abilities of Territory police officers and the place of non-Europeans in Territory society. These issues are fundamental to understanding why the force developed as it did, and if it was different to other Australian forces.

    The study, having examined the complexities of the geographical, social, political and cultural factors surrounding the emergence of the Northern Territory Police Force, concludes that many issues affected its development. In particular, the personalities of members who served in the force and the extent of cross-cultural contacts had a significant influence on the emergence of policing in the Territory. The study also demonstrates that the force is not unique. Other forces dealt with issues comparable to those experienced in the Northern Territory and solved them in similar ways. Drunkenness amongst police and institutionalised violence towards the Indigenous citizens of the Territory also emerge as key factors. The factors examined are crucial to understanding not only why the Territory's police force matured as it did, but also understanding its place as one of today's key institutions of the Northern Territory Government.
    Date of AwardJul 2000
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDavid Carment (Supervisor)

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