Liquor inspectors to replace police

GROG CHANGE: Liquor inspectors will replace police at bottle shops.
GROG CHANGE: Liquor inspectors will replace police at bottle shops.

The NT Government has moved to replace police at Katherine bottle shops with liquor inspectors.

An extra 75 police auxiliaries will be trained as Liquor Inspectors and stationed in front of bottle shops as part of a Government plan to stop alcohol-fueled violence in the NT.

The government expects it will take a year to recruit and train the new inspectors.

Katherine Mayor Fay Miller has led a chorus of criticism across the NT about the rise in anti-social behaviour on the streets from the removal of police (POSI) from bottle shops.

The Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors will form part of a new 97-member strong unit within the NT Police, and will include 12 police officers specifically targeting secondary supply, seven operational staff and three prosecutors.

The measures will be backed by an $11.83 million investment annually.

This will see frontline police return to core policing roles – including getting them back into remote police stations - and will deliver on recommendations from the Riley Review into Alcohol.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the 75 Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors will be additional to the 120 extra police officers already promised this term of government. 

“Every Territorian has the right to feel safe and expect their homes, businesses and property to be secure,” Mr Gunner said.

“The Government has outlined sweeping alcohol reforms to achieve generational change through the Riley Review into alcohol policy. Today I am taking this even further and announcing:

  • The creation of a new unit within NT Police comprising 97 police officers (75 police auxiliary liquor inspectors, 12 police officers to target secondary supply, three prosecutors to focus on license breach prosecutions);
  • 10 additional CCTV cameras to be deployed outside bottle shops to catch those people involved in secondary supply;
  • Legislation to empower Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors to conduct point of sale duties, including the ability to intervene and stop sales at take away liquor outlets;
  • The return of existing police currently stationed at TBLs to perform frontline policing duties.

“We have seen how destructive excessive consumption of alcohol is in the Northern Territory – particularly in relation to child neglect and the exposure of children to domestic violence,” Mr Gunner said.

The Banned Drinkers Register has failed as a single measure to stop a rise in anti-social behaviour.

The Banned Drinkers Register has failed as a single measure to stop a rise in anti-social behaviour.

“My Government is tackling this challenge by employing more police and giving them the resources and tools to do their job, bringing back the Banned Drinkers Register, limiting new take away alcohol licenses and reforming youth justice and correction systems.”

The 75 police auxiliary liquor inspectors will be located in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Katherine.

“These police auxiliaries will be recruited over the next 12 months, and trained in Alice Springs,” Mr Gunner said.

They are being prioritised so that approximately 36 police are taken off bottle shops and returned to frontline duties – including back into remote stations - enabling them to respond to community safety and anti-social behaviour.

The 12 police officers that will tackle secondary supply will be initially based in Darwin and Palmerston and will focus on investigating and preventing the secondary supply of alcohol. They will travel throughout the Territory.

They will work alongside seven additional support staff to assist in increased monitoring and compliance of liquor licence conditions, as well as three police prosecutors to focus on prosecutions, preparation of complaints and training the workforce.

A range of changes will be introduced in the upcoming March sittings so that these new powers can take effect.

Katherine MLA Sandra Nelson said she was confident police do everything they can to ensure the residents of Katherine live in a safe community.

“These additional resources announced today will enable our frontline police to return to the beat, while dedicated police auxiliary liquor inspectors are stationed at the front of bottle shops,” Ms Nelson said.

“The Government is making our communities safer, but it is also important that the community works with us so we can all put a stop to alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour.”