Police Minister Nicole Manison has told Parliament police officers left the force at double the attrition rate last financial year because they are “the best in the nation” and actively recruited by other states, despite record low morale in the ranks attributed to poor management.
The NT Police annual report was tabled in the Legislative Assembly this week that showed the attrition rate shot to 8.51 per cent – from 4.53 per cent in the 2019-20 financial year, and 4.66 per cent the year before. The annual report does not give the actual number of officers who left, or a breakdown of why they left, but is calculated using resignations, terminations, retirements and dismissals.
Opposition police spokeswoman Marie-Clare Boothby asked Ms Manison in Parliament how many officers had left since July 1.
Ms Manison did not answer the question and said Labor had provided the extra 120 officers they promised at the 2016 election, plus an additional 60 additional officers to meet COVID-19 demands, and 75 police auxiliary liquor inspectors, Aboriginal liaison officers, and Aboriginal police officers.
An NT Independent analysis of NT Police Association figures found 142 had left in total last financial year, with 119 of them from resignations. There had been 66 in the year before.
Thirty have left since July 1, according to NTPA figures.
“When it comes to police, unlike the CLP, this government has made sure we have a record investment in police and record numbers of police,” Ms Manison told Parliament.
“There are police officers who decide that they will retire, who choose to enter into other careers or who are sought after by other jurisdictions because the Northern Territory police are the best in the nation.”
Two weeks ago, the NTPA’s 2021 member survey showed more Territory cops were seeking a job outside the NT than ever before, with officers citing management issues as their reason for leaving.
Of more than 531 respondents, 60 per cent or 318 police officers have either applied or are considering applying for a job outside of the NT Police, doubling attrition rates since last year.
In another concerning finding, 64 per cent of officers surveyed said their morale is “low or very low”.
In early June, the NT Independent revealed the police college had failed a 2017 external audit to gauge its compliance with national standards, failed to keep proper records and was still hiring unqualified instructors as late as October 2019.
NT Police commissioner Jamie Chalker admitted at Estimates hearings later in June the police college had failed to meet national standards but that it was working towards addressing its non-compliance issues, including recruits graduating before being properly assessed for competency.
He said the most recent audit was conducted in March of this year, which showed the college had complied with the Australian Skills Quality Authority requirements, but those findings have not been made public.
In late September Commander Hege Burns was installed as the new police college head, becoming the sixth change in the top role since November 2019.