Sections & Units
The Northern Territory Police Force has had a number of different organisational structures. New units have been created and old units disbanded or renamed. Units have been moved under different commands within the structure and have had roles altered. For that reason it is not possible to present a structure that applies to more than a single period in time. Therefore the unit list below is functional and may not reflect current naming or organisational position.
At the core of policing is the local police station. Uniformed patroles are referred to as General Duties due to the variety of tasks they are required to perform.
The general duties officer must be a 'Jack of all Trades' and especially in remote areas may not have the luxury of specialist support at short notice if at all.
In 1978 a bomb was set off outside of the Hilton Hotel in Sydney during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting resulting in governments across Australia seeking to improve a range of counter terrorism capabilities. Among these were bomb response and from that time police forces at a state and national level have been increasing the capability.
Since the invention of motorised transport both police and criminals have taken advantage of mobility to increase the effectiveness of their activities. In addition the mass use of motor vehicles created a greater risk of transport accidents. Road safety became a key priority for all police forces inspiring the creation of dedicated traffic sections.
If you know about the traffic section or related areas then we would like you to contribute to this site.
The Intelligence sections of police forces are often misunderstood and confused with other intelligence organisations (military and national intelligence) with whom they share some methodologies but who have vastly different focus and practical application of their role.
The NT Police started its formal intelligence section with the Special Branch.
Sergeant John B. "Barrie" Tiernan was the first member and because of the time the role was very much aligned with the military intelligence community. Special Branch Units around the world were the subject of negative press due to perceptions that they were an inappropriate tool for use against the civil population and many, including the NT Police Special Branch, were disbanded.
In later years the BCI or Bureau of Criminal Intelligence was formed to provide intelligence services to the NT Police.
Later the name changed to Criminal Intelligence Section or CIS.
The intelligence role is particularly relevant to drug and organised crime enforcement and for a period the units were merged forming the Drug and Intelligence Unit or DIU.
The intelligence units were again separated in the mid 2000's when the Territory Intelligence Division (TID) was formed. An attempt was made to bring the unit in line with modern intelligence practice based on the UK's Police Intelligence Model or PIM and a local document called the Territory Intelligence Model (TIM) was produced. The NT Police subscribe to the Intelligence Led Policing business model outlined by the TIM as well as other operational models such as Community Policing.
The TID was divided into an Operational Intelligence Section (OIS) and a Field Intelligence Section (FIS).
Other Police agencies with intelligence functions
Australian Federal Police (website link)
Australian Customs Service (website link)
The Australian Crime Commission (website link) is a national criminal intelligence and investigation agency that works with state and territory police forces.
InterPol (website link)
Aseanapol (website link)
Europol (website link)
The use of the word intelligence in this field is different to the standard definition.
Police Intelligence could be defined as actionable information that has been collected, collated, analysed and disseminated to assist in law enforcement operations. The Intelligence process is a way of doing business that uses this 'intelligence' to make decisions on how best to use limited resources for maximum effect. Criminal Intelligence is information held in relation to specific criminals or criminal organisations. Crime Intelligence is information about trends in criminal activity types, locations or times that assist agencies to prevent, deter or disrupt criminal activity.
Intelligence as a product is not collection of facts alone as in criminal investigation it is rare that all the facts are known. It includes a wide variety of information that must be rated and analysed in conjunction with other information to produce an inference.
National Intelligence Community
Police Intelligence agencies share some roles with the National Intelligence agencies and cooperate on matters of mutual interest but especially for small police forces the target groups are very different. Police focus on organised criminal groups and repeat offenders. The National Intelligence community includes;
ASIO - Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (website link)
ASIS - Australian Secret Intelligence Service (website link)
DGIO - Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation - Geospatial Intelligence
DIO - Defence Intelligence Organisation
DSD - Defence Signals Directorate
ONA - Office of National Assessments
Many unusual cases make their way to the intelligence agencies. A file named "Report on sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects" dated 13 December 1967 from the Naval Staff Office was addressed to the local intelligence committee.
Squadron Leader, L F E Fosdike, RAAF Darwin.
Major F J Spry, NT Command, Darwin.
Mr L Gordon, ASIO Darwin.
Seargent J B Tiernan, Special Branch, NT Police, Darwin.
An attached statement from a Mr J Lord of Munmalary Station, South Alligator River, NT detailed a bright, pulsating white light seen on a number of occasions. However, this isn't the interesting part and many other similar reports made their way to the intelligence committee to report on.
Today the Mounted Unit is based at the Peter McAulay Centre as a specialist resouce and conducts patrols in support of other units throughout the Territory. The unit is not merely a traditional legacy for ceremonial purposes and public relations, horses have a special place in Search and Rescue (SAR) operations as well as public order response and the policing of major events and in difficult terrain.
In many instances in the early days a single police officer would conduct patrols with a group of trackers. The trackers and Aboriginal assistants played a vital role in sustaining patrols. Larger parties would be formed for specific operations such as the capture of specific offenders.
Selected for his wide range of bush skills the mounted constables of yesteryear often had access to only very basic equipment and when it failed had to make to for long periods because of the difficulties in resupply.
In early times long range patrols necessitated large teams as there was a need to be completely self sufficient for long periods.
Patrols were conducted in Terrain ranging from tropical forests and escarpments to the more arid regions of the Territory.
Swollen rivers and the associated animal (mainly crocodile) hazards were a way of life for early Territorians and especially for mounted constables who would be required to conduct patrols or respond despite the difficult conditions.
The bush policeman had to be a master of logistics, a capable rider, skilled bushman and adept at animal husbandry.
Water Police by a variety of names have been a part of policing in the NT since it's inception. The names and the roles have changed over that time but with the vast coastline of the NT, the strategic nature of Darwin Harbour, our important fishing industry and the limitations placed on road transport during the wet season the maritime industry will always be important to the NT and will require a variety of police services.
The responsibility for police divers was held with the Territory Response Group but around 2005 it transitioned to the (then) Marine and Fisheries Enforcement Section. It returned to TRG in 2012.
Police Divers are used to recover bodies or evidence from underwater as well as conduct security operations.
The Police Underwater Recovery Unit have a 'Dive Boat' called the PV Bill Stavers in honour of a former (deceased) member of the TRG. The vessel is a forfeited fishing vessel which is also employed for other tasks such as flood boat work.
Child Abuse Taskforce
Major Crime Unit
Major Fraud Unit
Operational Intelligence Section
Property Crime Reduction Unit
Stolen Motor Vehicles
The Police Negotiator Unit provides specially trained members to assist with crisis negotiation. The capacity to communicate well and understand a diverse range of people is a core skill for a police officer and the vast majority of incidents are resolved by police response members. However when the stakes are high a team of specially trained members can improve the chances of success.
Negotiator training is conducted locally but the supported nationally as a counter terrorism capability and all states send members to national level training to ensure consistent teaching and maximum interoperability.
HISTORY OF POLICE CHAPLAINCY IN THE NT : 1988 - 2012
In 1988 the first Police Chaplain was appointed - Major Ashley Davies. He was head of The Salvation Army in the Northern Territory at the time. Major Davies was part time and volunteer Chaplain providing pastoral support to Police, mainly in the Darwin area, travelling to remote Stations when requested.
In 1992 Captain Dudley Mortimer.
In 1993 Major Barry Shearer.
Both were Ministers of The Salvation Army Anula Church were appointed part time and volunteer Chaplain to the Police. Mainly in the Darwin area, travelling to remote Stations when requested.
In 1996 Major Dennis Dell was appointed as the first full time Senior Chaplain with a contract between the PFES and The Salvation Army as Chaplain to the Police, Fire and Emergency Services for the whole of the Northern Territory.
In 1998 Major Peter Wright (Salvation Army) was appointed Senior Chaplain for the PFES for the whole of the Northern Territory.
In 2000 Captain Simon Morris (Salvation Army) was appointed Senior Chaplain for the PFES for the whole of the Northern Territory.
In June 2002 Major Peter Wright (Salvation Army) was reappointed Senior Chaplain for the PFES.
From 1991 till 2000 the Reverend Rob Kerwood (Uniting Church) was a “Patrol Padre” travelling to remote cattle stations and communities was a part time and volunteer Chaplain in the Southern Region of the NT. Upon retiring a contract was offered from 2000 till 2003 as a part time Chaplain in the Southern Region.
In 2006 The Christian Community Centre Church in Alice Springs was awarded a three year contract to provide a part time Chaplain. Andrew McAllan with Mark von Blanckensee shared this position for one year.
In 2007 Andrew and Mark were replaced by Dennis von Blanckensee. In November 2009 Michael Cody took over the position of part time Chaplain in the Southern Region.
With the appointment of a part time Chaplain in Alice Springs, covering the Southern Region, and a full time Chaplain in Darwin covering the Central and Northern Regions the Chaplains work load was greatly reduced. Officially the Chaplains are very separate in their operations. However they worked, unofficially very closely together with ideas, support and encouragement.