Police association unhappy with liquor role

The NT Police Association says it is unhappy with the liquor licensing role of auxiliaries.

The NT Government has today moved to replace police at 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.

The NT Police Association says it is concerned today’s announcement by the NT Government, to create a new Community Safety Division, comprising of Police Auxiliaries and support staff, is an admission they have no faith in Licensing to monitor and act against breaches of the Liquor Act.

President Paul McCue says while details of the announcement are scarce at this time, it follows continued pressure on police to monitor licensees and secondary supply activities, particularly at takeaway outlets.

Paul McCue.

Paul McCue.

“The question must still be asked, why is this a Police job?” Mr McCue said.

The Police Auxiliary scheme was introduced to the NT in the early 1990’s to provide support to Northern Territory Police in three main employment streams, Communications, Front Counter and the Watch House.

None of these streams are in a first response capacity on the frontline.

An Auxiliary Police Officer receives approximately seven weeks training to work in these crucial support roles, but this latest announcement sees them pushed onto the streets, to do bottle shop work.

“We have just come through protracted pay negotiations with government, during which neither they, nor the Police Commissioner flagged this proposal.

“It is during those recent negotiations matters such as this should be addressed, because an Auxiliary working on the frontline, is a crucial change to the agreed terms and conditions of how the current scheme works.

“This will unfairly place our Auxiliaries at risk because they do not receive the same extensive training required by Constables to deal with working on the frontline in dangerous and unpredictable environments,” Mr McCue said.

The announcement to train this new stream of Auxiliaries in Alice Springs also comes as a surprise, given there is no dedicated training facility in the town, and the current Accelerated Recruit Squad being trained in Alice Springs was forced to use current operational facilities, with trainers being required to temporarily relocate to Alice.

“This has created a significant burden on operational members in Alice Springs, who have been asked to undertake the additional training, or being required to move to accommodate the new squad.

“If government wants to train new recruits in Alice, it must comm it to a fit for purpose training facility with appropriate resources to undertake this task.

“The NTPA is calling on government to fast-track urgent amendments to the current Liquor Act, providing Police more direct power to deal with breaches of the Liquor Act.

He said the Police Association was seeking urgent meetings with the Police Commissioner and the Minister for Police to discuss today’s announcement.