Crime in Alice Springs

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Crime is a significant social issue in Alice Springs.[1][2][3][4] 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.[5] Violent crime in the town in 2010 was at unprecedented levels[6] and "out of control".[7] Alice Springs is the nation’s murder capital and one of the most dangerous towns in Australia[8] The level of crime has had a major impact on the town’s tourist industry[9] with tourists from several countries being warned to avoid the town or take extra precautions.[9][10][11] Most violent crime in Alice Springs is between Aboriginal people, with violence directed at non-Aboriginal people infrequent.[12]


The high crime rate is due to conditions in Alice Springs Aboriginal communities.[13][14][15] The Aboriginal town camps of Alice Springs are notorious for their drinking, violence and substandard conditions.[16] Assaults are common in Aboriginal town camps and 95 per cent of people in the town fleeing domestic violence are indigenous.[13] The level of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities has been described as "out of control" by the Northern Territory Coroner.[17] The Indigenous camps of Alice Springs were described by the Minister for Indigenous Affairs as "murder capitals".[18] 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.[19]

The over-representation of Aboriginal people is also attributable in part to Aboriginal people moving into Alice Springs from more remote communities.[14][20]

Violent crime

Violent crime is common in Alice Springs, mostly involving Aboriginal people, especially between spouses or young men.[21] Most murders and many rapes are committed in the dry Todd River bed.[12] 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.[12] Alice Springs' population of Aboriginal residents is over-represented as offenders in violent crimes, accounting for over three quarters of assault offenders.[22][page needed]

Youth crime

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[23][10][24][25] The youth crime problem is attributed to Indigenous people coming to town from remote communities to escape the "NT Intervention",[26][24] with some children using government funded public transport to travel hundreds of kilometres from remote communities to Alice springs unaccompanied.[23] 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.[23] The youth crime problem in Alice Springs is also attributed to children roaming at night to avoid abuse and domestic violence at home.[23][10][27][24]

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.[28][29][30][31][32] Emergency services workers, including police[31][32]and ambulance[29] have also been the target of rock attacks by youths.


In 2009 there were 1432 recorded assaults in Alice Springs,[3] with 65% of assaults involving alcohol.[3][33] Reported assaults had almost doubled since 2004.[3] 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.[3]

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.[34][35] 774 homes and businesses were broken into during the 2009-10 financial year.[34][35]

Crime increase

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.[35] Recorded cases of assault rose by 87%,[35] sexual assault offences rose by 97%,[35] and house break-ins increased by 64%.[35]

Break-ins to commercial premises rose by 185%,[35] and 'motor vehicle theft and related offences' increased by 97%[35] on 2004-05 figures.[35]

2015 saw national concern focused on youth crime in Alice Springs, including incidents in which rocks were thrown at police.[36][37]

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%.[38]

Response to crime

In 2008, the Alice Springs town council began to hire private security guards to patrol the town, at a cost of $5000 per week.[4] The Northern Territory government has been accused of underfunding social services for Aboriginal people in Alice Springs,[4] as part of a wider problem of underfunding across central Australia.[4] Alice Springs Mayor Damien Ryan has indicated that crime has increased as more people migrated into the city from remote communities.[39]

Some long-time residents of Alice Springs have moved away as a direct result of crime concerns.[1] Local businesses have spent increased amounts to upgrade the physical security of their premises from property crime,[39][34] including the use of high security fences, razor wire and security cameras.[39][34]

See also


  1. ^ a b Rothwell, Nicolas (19 February 2011). "Violence in Alice spirals out of control". The Australian. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  2. ^ Rothwell, Nicolas (8 February 2011). "Destroyed in Alice". The Australian. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e Tlozek, Eric (31 March 2010). "Alice crime rates reach unprecedented levels". ABC Online. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d Robinson, Natasha (22 December 2008). "Down like Alice the meltdown of a tourism mecca". The Australian. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  5. ^ "We beat Darwin – in crime – Alice Springs News".
  6. ^ "Alice crime rates reach unprecedented levels". ABC News.
  7. ^ "Nocookies". The Australian.
  8. ^ "Welcome to Australia's most dangerous town".
  9. ^ a b "Foreign travellers warned about visiting Alice Springs". 15 March 2017.
  10. ^ a b c "Seaching for Stories - Keywords: alice springs crime - Today Tonight Adelaide".
  11. ^ Webb, Carolyn (15 March 2017). "Foreign tourists warned on Alice Springs safety risks" – via The Sydney Morning Herald.
  12. ^ a b c
  13. ^ a b "7.30 –ABC".
  14. ^ a b "7.30 ABC".
  15. ^ ""Big problems" in Alice Springs".
  16. ^ Skelton, Russell (26 May 2011). "No town like Alice" – via The Sydney Morning Herald.
  17. ^ "Domestic violence 'out of control in NT Aboriginal communities'". 21 September 2016.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Walkout sinks town camp safety summit hopes". ABC News.
  20. ^ "Get off Facebook and help us, NT Police tell Alice Springs residents". ABC News.
  21. ^ ""Big problems" in Alice Springs - Inside Story". 25 February 2011.
  22. ^ "Northern Territory Safe Streets Audit".
  23. ^ a b c d Sinclair, Corey “Youth in Crisis” Centralian Advocate 14 July 2014 pp 4-5
  24. ^ a b c "Destroyed in Alice". 18 February 2011.
  25. ^ "Troubled youth need help, not hate".
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Alice Springs Crime - Today Tonight Adelaide".
  28. ^ "Rock-throwing youths in Alice Springs will be taken into child protection: Giles". 16 April 2015.
  29. ^ a b "Ambulance struck in rock attack".
  30. ^ "Alice Springs woman attacked by rock throwers".
  31. ^ a b "Rock throwing film calls on kids to make the right choices".
  32. ^ a b "Rocks thrown at police, windows broken, vehicles damaged in Alice Springs". 14 April 2015.
  33. ^ Chlanda, Erwin (31 January 2012). "Alcohol by far enemy number one in crime fight". Alice Springs News Online. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  34. ^ 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.
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i
  36. ^ Davidson, Helen (17 April 2015). "'Nothing is off the table' in NT taskforce to tackle rising youth crime". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  37. ^ "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.
  38. ^ "Alice Springs - NT Police".
  39. ^ a b c Schliebs, Mark (21 February 2011). "Besieged Alice Springs businesses resort to razor wire". The Australian. Retrieved 20 January 2014.

External links

  • Australian Database of Indigenous Violence
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