Crime in Sydney

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Crime in Sydney has been part of the city since the earliest days as a prison colony, with the combination of various penal institutions, corrupt authorities, gold rushes and increasing wealth encouraged the growth of a criminal element.[1]


Early 20th century

One of the most notorious and lucrative criminal operations in the early part of the 1900s was the legendary Thommo's Two-up School, a vastly profitable illegal gaming operation, based on the Australian coin-tossing game "Two-up" that operated continuously in various locations in Sydney until well after World War II. Although Thommo's was known and frequented by hundreds of thousands of Sydneysiders and that it operated for decades, in the late 1960s the then New South Wales Commissioner of Police, Norman Allan, was still publicly denying that Thommo's even existed.[1]


Illegal gaming houses, brothels and "sly-grog shops" (illegal alcohol outlets) operated freely in the inner city throughout the 1900s, thanks to on-going protection by corrupt police. One of the most notorious gambling clubs of the postwar period, the Forbes Club, located in Forbes St, Darlinghurst, conducted its business with impunity for years, even though it was openly signposted and was located only metres from the Darlinghurst Police Station.


In the late 1960s, following the 1965 election of the Liberal state government headed by Robert Askin, there was a drastic realignment of criminal activities as the old networks dissolved. One of the most controversial claims about the Sydney crime scene at this time, reported by crime writer David Hickie in his book The Prince and the Premier, is the allegation that Askin was corrupt and that he regularly received huge cash payments from illegal gaming operators like Perce Galea in return for political and police protection. After his death it was revealed that Askin's multi-million dollar estate was worth vastly more than he could have legally earned, and this has been seen by many as confirmation of his corruption.[citation needed]

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