Liquor cop role ignores immediate crime problem: Opposition

Gary Higgins.
Gary Higgins.

The recruitment drive for Auxiliary police officers, lacks detail and will not immediately address the alcohol related crime rates currently plaguing the Territory, the NT Opposition claims.

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

Chief Minister Michael Gunner announced 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.

In response, the Leader of the Opposition Gary Higgins, has called on the government to advise what powers the newly recruited Auxiliaries will have to conduct bottleshop duties, known as Point of Sale Interventions (POSIs) and Temporary Beat Locations (TBLs).

“Today’s announcement lacks detail and does not address the need for an immediate response to stemming the supply of alcohol and secondary supply in the Territory, including in remote areas.

“This announcement fails to address the critical shortage of police resources in remote locations.

Source: NT Opposition.

Source: NT Opposition.

“What is the government doing about the displacement of people up the track to Darwin?

“We are already seeing continuing movement from people who are looking for improved housing and other services.

“This Auxiliary policing model was a 2016 election commitment by the CLP, why has it taken Labor 19 months to announce this policy?

“As the rates of alcohol related crime continue to soar across the Territory, the Opposition continues to question the government’s priorities.

“Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek crime is out of control because of the vacuum without POSIs.

“Labor has been in power for 19 months and alcohol related assaults are up over 19 per cent in the most recent crime statistics report.

“Territorians do not feel safe and the Banned Drinker Register (BDR) continues to fail as a standalone tool.

“In addition, the Minister for Police must advise how he will support the Police Force to recruit and train these new police.

“Recruiting, training and appointing Auxiliaries will take at least a year by government’s own admission and will draw on existing police officers to conduct training, be it at the Darwin Police College or in Alice Springs,” Mr Higgins said.

Meanwhile, Araluen MLA Robyn Lambley said she was pleased the NT Government has seen the light and has finally decided to commit to keeping Police outside of Bottle Shops.

“It is about time the Minister for Police actually listened to the people of Katherine, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs.”

“The Banned Drinkers Register is a complete flop in Alice Springs where less than 500 local people are on it. Less than 1% of drinkers are being refused service. It is no surprise Gunner has had to back flip (again!) on alcohol policy. Last year he back flipped on the “Dan Ban” and the floor space limit.”

“This continuing flip flopping on alcohol policy by Gunner is ridiculous and has come at a huge cost to Territorians. It also shows Gunner has no clear vision or direction of where he is taking Territorians.”

“My only concern now is when will the Police auxiliaries be in place at our Bottle Shops and what will happen in the meantime.”

“Having another 6 to 12 months of free flowing alcohol will continue to have major consequences on our safety, health and the local economies of Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek,” she said.