Police Statistics and PNG Law and Order

By Paul Oates

In 1975, when PNG was preparing for Independence, it is estimated that the Territory had a population of around 3 million. Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) numbers were at that time around 3,000 or about .1% of the population.  Rural RPNGC numbers were however bolstered, prior to Independence in 1975, by Kiaps who were also sworn police officers.

*Police    *Population      %




PNG reportedly now has 4,200 regular police and 600 Reservists.

In the Australian news recently it was claimed there are a total of 45,000 police in all the Australian States and Territories. These police numbers are a necessary requirement for a population of around 22 million Australians.

Comparing the current statistics between PNG and Australia, they translate into the following percentages for each country.

Police Numbers


Australia Population %








Considering the resources and equipment available to Australian Police and the relative geographic spread of the Australian population, it is not surprising that PNG is reported to have an increasing law and order problem. Australia has nearly triple the amount of police pro rata of the population and far better resources and working conditions available to their police services. Australian transport and communications are also considerably better than PNG’s.

With PNG’s population now rapidly increasing, (6,610,000 – See 2. below), statistics indicate that the PNG government has allowed police numbers to sink well below previous levels. Recent pay rises announced by the PNG PM can only do so much to improve morale. Further funding is needed to improve recruitment, training and working conditions including accommodation and funding for day to day operations. Increased pay rates don’t put police ‘on the beat’ and in situ as a visible deterrent to escalating criminal activities.

Morobe Governor Luther Wenge trumpeted his success in getting rid of the Australian Police assistance (Enhanced Co-operation Program – ECP), a few years ago. That action was apparently welcomed by the Somare government who did nothing to prevent the Australian Police leaving. Governor Wenge has recently now suggested that capital punishment be reintroduced in order to combat increasing crime rates.

It’s hard not to sympathise with the loyal members of the RPNGC who are being asked to do more with increasingly less resources and numbers and increasing crime rates.

The opening up and development of PNG as a nation would not have been possible without the bond between the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary and Kiaps. PNG owes a lot to her police service and it’s about time the PNG government recognised this obligation and did something about it.


1.  “New Guinea Government- An Introduction” Brian Jinks 1971 Angus and Robertson ISBN 0 207 12180

RPNGC Numbers (Excluding expatriate officers)







2. http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/fadt_ctte/swpacific/report2/c03.pdf
Figure 3.1 Police force numbers in Pacific Islands Forum states (estimates only)
Country             Population     Police
Cook Islands               15,600     150
Federated States of Micronesia     111,000     300
Niue                     1,200       15
Kiribati               98,900     300
Tonga                 103,000     450
Republic of Marshall Islands       54,000     165
Samoa                 182,500     560
Palau                   20,400     170
Tuvalu                   10,000       80
Nauru                   11,100     100
Solomon Islands         535,000     1024
Vanuatu             239,000     530
Papua New Guinea              6,610,000         4,700
Totals                      7,991,700         8,544

  • Estimates suggest that Fiji will have 3097 police officers by 2010.4

N.B.  PNG’s police service is composed of regular and reservists officers.

Paul Oates Oct 2010


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