Jobs Events Advertise

Four Corners reveals danger to Indigenous people posed by 'Cheap Policing' in the NT

Joseph Guenzler -

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised this article contains mentions of discrimination and violence against Indigenous people.

The latest episode of ABC Four Corners, "Guarded," dives into the growing presence of private security in the Northern Territory, highlighting cases of Indigenous people subjected to searches, assaults, and loss of liberty by private security personnel.

The prominence of private security contractors in the Northern Territory is growing rapidly, due to claims of rising crime rates.

A closer examination of data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and public safety surveys spanning from 2005 to 2023, along with police records, reveals a mixed pattern in crime-related trends during this period.

The Northern Territory stands out as one of the few places in Australia where private companies are contracted by the government to perform tasks traditionally carried out by law enforcement agencies.

These contracted guards possess limited authority and receive minimal training, resulting in what has been characterised as a form of "quasi law and order," also being funded by tax-payer money whilst keeping exactly how much is being spent commercially in confidence.

The ABC program obtained footage of several disturbing incidents, including a Indigenous woman being punched in the face, another woman being forcefully pushed to the floor and dragged across the ground, and several other events.

"They don't administer any by-laws," Lord Mayor Kon Vatskallis told Four Corners.

"They can't, legally; the only thing they do is they detect a problem."

The "Blue shirt mob" called Territory Protective Servicies (TPS), are on patrol 24/7 and step in when "police aren't available."

The patrol program was established in 2019 to patrol the CBD.

It was later extended to Darwin's outer suburbs such as Karama, Malak and Palmerston under the Public Order Response Unit which is run by a security company called Neptune NT.

The PORU strongly resembles a police outfit and are seen carrying pepper spray and accompanied by canines.

Private security in the Northern Territory carry pepper spray and patrol with dogs. (Image: ABC iView/Guarded)

Street sweeping efforts have particularly singled out Indigenous people experiencing homelessness.

One incident examined involved an Indigenous man who endured a severe altercation, leaving him struggling to breathe after being thrown to the ground.

Despite the extensive implementation of the private policing model in the Northern Territory, there is a notable absence of legislation governing the powers and authority vested in private security guards. Furthermore, a regulatory framework for their behavior and the judicious use of force and weaponry remains conspicuously absent.

Professor Thalia Anthony, Faculty of LAW, UTS told ABC reporter Brooke Fryer: "There's no law that enables them to move on people, the laws related to move on are to be administered by police."

"They're using their image as police, their uniform to enforce that power that doesn't appear to have a legal basis. There would at least need to be legislation that enables private security to operate patrols."

Professor Anthony said there is no law enabling the firms to operate patrols.


CSIRO grant helps blend Aboriginal traditions with agricultural innovation
In a fusion of Indigenous wisdom and cutting-edge technology, Darryl Lyons, a respected Maiawali man, and inventor Mic Bla...
Zak Kirkup 1 Mar 2024
Rolfe to wrap up evidence in Walker death inquest
An inquest into the death of an Indigenous teenager is set to wrap up after 18 months as evidence from the police officer who sh...
Neve Brissenden 1 Mar 2024
Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation strikes deal for "equal footing in future decision-making" over Murujuga country
Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation has defined a new approach to agreement making in Australia, following the signing Thursday of a...
Giovanni Torre 1 Mar 2024
Court finds Youpla misrepresented itself as an Aboriginal-owned or managed company
The collapsed funeral fund Youpla misrepresented itself as Aboriginal owned or managed, the full Federal Court ruled on Thursday...
Dechlan Brennan 29 Feb 2024

   Joseph Guenzler   

Clean energy toolkit launched to drive sustainable development
In a year-long effort, the recently unveiled Community Energy Planning Toolkit presents a seven-step guide for First Nations com...
Joseph Guenzler 29 Feb 2024
Sydney Comedy Festival returns this April with an all-star cast of Indigenous comedians
The Sydney Comedy Festival has unveiled additional acts for the 2024 edition, scheduled from April 22 to May 19. The festivitie...
Joseph Guenzler 29 Feb 2024
Australia Has a Black History: a Gomeroi woman's photographic journey
The work of Gomeroi photographer Barbara McGrady is currently on display at Chau Chak Wing Museum in an extraordinary new exhibi...
Joseph Guenzler 28 Feb 2024
Wesley Enoch's 'The Sunshine Club' returns
The Sydney Coliseum Theatre is again touring the acclaimed musical "The Sunshine Club" written and directed by Noonuccal Nuugi m...
Joseph Guenzler 28 Feb 2024