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Crime in Sydney

From Academic Kids

From its earliest days as a prison colony Sydney's population has maintained a much-talked-about healthy scepticism towards authority. The Rum corps, a moniker for several successive British regiments that served as prison guards, were probably Sydney's first taste of organised crime.

Sydney's development into a major sea port, with the combination of various penal institutions, corrupt authorities, gold rushes and increasing wealth encouraged the growth of a criminal element.

Criminal behaviour remains a problem in many parts of Sydney today. Whilst enjoying a relatively low crime-rate by world standards, the city is a noteworthy crime spot in Australia, with a higher crime rate than Melbourne (see Crime in Melbourne), and Australia's other major cities.

Perhaps the most notorious place in Sydney in terms of criminal history is Kings Cross. Located in inner eastern Sydney, "The Cross" has a long history of illegal gambling clubs, sex clubs, paedophilia, drug dealing, "shooting galleries" (places frequented by intravenous drug users), police corruption and murder. It remains the backdrop of the mysterious and famous disappearance in 1975 of Juanita Nielson, an heiress who opposed high-rise development there. The Wood Royal Commission into police corruption in the 1990s found widespread corruption amongst the various police units at Kings Cross, resulting in several long-term changes to policing in New South Wales.

Other problem areas in Sydney include: the western suburbs of Cabramatta (which became notorious in the 1990s for illegal drugs being openly sold in its streets and at its railway station by juvenile drug dealers, and for a political assassination in 1994); Punchbowl and Lakemba (focal points of much ethnic tension and ethnic-based crime); and the southern inner city suburb of Redfern (known for a politically-sensitive failed indigenous housing development called 'The Block', drug-related crimes and an infamous riot in February 2004).

In the winter of 2000 a series of four gang rapes occurred, in which gangs of up to 18 men abducted and violently raped women. In every case, the men were of Lebanese Muslim descent, and the women of European descent. These incidents led to harsh new sentences for gang rape in New South Wales.

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