Shopkeepers want better lines of communication with Katherine Police officers.
In a packed room at the Civic Centre this afternoon, Police Commander Michael Hebb, Superintendent Daniel Shean and Katherine MLA Sandra Nelson addressed business owners concerned about the recent spike in crime rates.
Shopkeepers identified communication with police as an issue and asked for better avenues to report crime and request information.
One of the meeting attendees said he was frustrated with the long wait times he experienced when making a phone call to police.
“I was on the phone for 15 minutes waiting and then I had to give over all of my personal details before I could report the crime,” he said.
“We already think the police are busy, are we overstretching them more with these phone calls?”
Superintendent Daniel Shean welcomed the feedback saying he will commit to following up with inquiries and assessing service delivery.
“I acknowledge we have not done that well in the past with repeat victim engagement,” Superintendent Shean, who is only weeks into his new post, said.
“I will commit to improving that victim engagement, it is something I have been working on for the past week,” he said.
Prevention and awareness are hot on my agenda.Superintendent Daniel Shean
About 35 shopkeepers attended the crime meeting, organised by the Chamber of Commerce.
The meeting, not open to the general public, was due to finish at about 4.30pm and went overtime with shopkeepers wanting more clarification on a range of topics.
One shopkeeper claimed the new police auxiliary officers posted at bottle shops to stop alcohol-fueled violence in the NT were “overzealous”.
Commander Hebb said he strongly supported the Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspectors (PALI) and is working to get more awareness out to the community about the line of questioning experienced by some.
“They are not discriminatory, they ask the same questions to everyone. Their role is to reduce alcohol related harm,” he said.
“They are entitled to ask questions about where you are drinking because you might be drinking with someone on the banned drinkers registry.”
Commander Hebb said their role is to also reduce the secondary supply of alcohol in Katherine.
“People in Katherine are supplying alcohol for inflated prices and we are working to reduce that. We are hoping to see a flow on effect in reducing property damage, hospitalisations and incarceration,” he said.
Other shopkeepers were concerned with how CCTV cameras in Katherine are monitored and what happens to youth when they commit a crime.
Commander Hebb said one staff member is allocated to monitor Katherine CCTV cameras and tip off police if they see suspicious behavior.
“A lot of youth problems can be linked back to domestic violence or substance abuse [at home],” Commander Hebb said.
“Those are underlying issues we need to work on as police and agencies.”
Commander Hebb committed to opening the lines of communication at future Chamber of Commerce meetings and bringing operation people working on the ground together to work collaboratively to address the town-wide crime issues.
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