Some older Katherine residents fear changes to grog laws will lead to an immediate rise in crime.
They claim they are already living in fear of attacks at home and on their street.
The Katherine Times sat down today with five pensioners to discuss changes to the Territory’s alcohol laws rolling out over the next few weeks.
We have chosen to change their names so they could speak freely.
“I like the police being in the bottle shops, it keeps the community safe,” Daisy said.
“I don’t think either of them (alcohol sale policies) make a difference because people can still get someone else to by them a drink, if people really want it they can get it.
“It has gotten better, I remember in Katherine when staff at the pub were told to go and arm themselves with axes and shovels.
“There were a lot of street brawls as well,” she said.
Daisy said Katherine “is a lost cause”.
“When you live alone it is really scary, I have had five attempted break-ins in six months.
“You don’t sleep, you are on edge all of the time.”
Michael said there is only so much policy can do to restrict problem drinkers.
“The pubs and clubs shouldn’t serve alcohol after midnight, the BDR is only going to stop people from buying take away alcohol,” he said.
Heather said although she thinks that having police officers in bottle shops are a “waste” they make her feel more safe.
“Everyone says what they have now works better so I don’t know why they are changing it,” Heather said.
Margaret said she was worried the BDR would bring many problem drinkers back into town.
“People get all of these visitors just walking into their homes and the people that live there can’t say no, even if they don’t want them to stay,” Margaret said.
The NT Government will begin testing ID scanners in Katherine from Saturday to ensure equipment is ready for the Banned Drinker Register’s return on September 1.
Health Minister Natasha Fyles said the BDR will make the Territory safer by cutting the flow of take away alcohol to problem drinkers.
NT Alcohol inquiry panel chair Trevor Riley said problems with the NT’s alcohol laws were not going to be fixed overnight.
Mr Riley said “compelling evidence” had already been presented to the inquiry that police in the bottle shop policy had worked.
Former chief justice Riley said many people wanted police out of bottle shops and back on the beat but also wanted people with uniforms to remain in the bottle shops.
”They want some sort of disciplined force, wearing a uniform and with authority, much like housing and fishing inspectors, to stay but free up police,” Mr Riley said.
He said many people were concerned the BDR, without the police, would not have the same impact.
“Submissions have been made that POSI’s should stay until the BDR is proven.”
Katherine MLA Sandra Nelson said it was the Government’s intention to have a transition period between the BDR’s introduction and removal of the POSI.
”It is an operational decision of police where they place them,” she said.
Ms Nelson said she had never been a supporter of the POSI policy.
“It has an effect on surrounding communities like Mataranka,” she said, indicating that problem drinkers were simply forced to live in other areas.
“I have seen people in Darwin who I know are from Katherine who go there for the drinking,” she said.