A six month review of the Banned Drinker’s Register shows it is working as designed, the NT Government says.
Health Minister Natasha Fyles said the report showed a reduction in the supply of alcohol to problem drinkers, and was targeting individuals whose alcohol related behaviour led to repeat offending.
The report shows in February, 37 per cent of adults apprehended for alcohol-related offences were already on the BDR at the time of their arrest.
Katherine, with 57 per cent, was by the highest of anywhere in the Territory.
Since September 1, 2017 around 5500 people have been placed on the BDR, and there have been more than 5100 refusals of sale.
“When you limit the abuse of alcohol you cut down crime. This is why the Government brought back the BDR as one part of our historic and comprehensive alcohol reforms to stop alcohol-fuelled violence in the NT,” she said.
Communities like Katherine, where the fight has been led by Mayor Fay Miller, say anti-social behaviour is rising in the streets and police need to man bottle shops again.
Ms Fyles said reforms include the appointment of 75 police auxiliaries to be stationed at the front of bottle shops, 12 new police officers specifically targeting secondary supply, and the tripling of the maximum penalty for secondary supply to three years in prison or a $46,200 fine.
Katherine is set to receive 22 of the new auxiliaries, expected to start work early next year.
Ms Fyles said Menzies School of Health Research has provided independent oversight of the 6 month process evaluation of the implementation of the BDR, and that report is now available online for all Territorians to read.
“The Government values evidence based reforms and that is why we have engaged with Menzies to provide an independent evaluation at the 6 month mark,” she said.
“While I am very optimistic that the report shows that the BDR is meeting its policy objectives, it is important to note that this is a six month evaluation, and we have always made clear that the BDR will continue to evolve and improve.”
The evaluation shows the BDR is wide-reaching and targeting individuals whose alcohol related behaviour leads to:
- Long-standing and frequent non-criminal events, such as protective custody and infringement notices due to their alcohol problems (often itinerant); or
- History of alcohol related criminal behaviour, with terms in prison and on parole; through to
- People with one-off alcohol related offences including assaults and drink driving.
“This indicates the BDR is effective in targeting individuals with alcohol-related problem behaviour,” Ms Fyles said.
The report also indicates the early stages of positive behaviour changing in some groups of people on the BDR, such as:
- Parolees on the BDR are showing compliance with no drinking and no alcohol related criminal events,
- Reduced alcohol related offending and protective custody after release from prison,
- Reducing frequency of protective custody and infringements with some people who were previously frequent users, and;
- Alcohol Mandatory Treatment (a policy of the former CLP Government) did not result in changed behaviour for problem drinkers.
“Secondary supply is raised as a concern and we are already working to address that with new legislation – the tripling of fines - and the 75 Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors,” Ms Fyles said.
“While it was positive to note that the report shows that the BDR is meeting its policy objectives, it also identifies 23 recommendations for further enhancing and improving its effects.
“These recommendations will be considered within the work being progressed in the Alcohol Harm Minimisation Action Plan.
“The Northern Territory Government will continue to independently evaluate the BDR with the report of the impact of 12 months of operations due in December.”