SOURCE: The Katherine Times
THE Northern Territory government is refusing to make an early commitment to ensure temporary police beats become a permanent fixture in Katherine’s battle against alcohol abuse.
The government launched the six-month trial on December 18, which aims to target the primary cause of antisocial behaviour in the town.
As part of the trial, 10 police officers have been seconded from Darwin to rotate through Katherine on a fortnightly basis to ensure that there is a police presence at bottle shops during operating hours.
Initial figures for the first two weeks of the trial show that only 58 offences against people - a drop of 40.8 per cent on the same period last year - were reported, with police also responding to only one assault not related to domestic violence over the same 14 days.
NT Police Commissioner John McRoberts was in Katherine on Monday to observe the trial and said it was obvious it had made an impact on antisocial behaviour.
“There is no doubt that this has been a very successful operational strategy and it’s heartening to hear of the success, not only from my officers, but without exception, the people who I’ve spoken to in Katherine, especially the proprietors of small businesses, are overwhelmingly in support of it,” he said.
Commr McRoberts said it was important to remember that, while the trial was producing results, temporary beats were not an overall solution to the Territory’s alcohol abuse problem.
He would not be drawn into debate on whether or not he would like to see the temporary beats become permanent, stating that “government policy is a matter for government”.
Police, Fire and Emergency Services Minister Peter Chandler said the government would not commit funding to make a police presence outside bottle shops in Katherine a permanent fixture at such an early stage in the trial, but admitted he was in favour of the concept.
“If something like this works in somewhere like Katherine, there is no doubt the government would want to continue it,” he told the Katherine Times.
“I’m certain the Member for Katherine wouldn’t be against this and it’s certainly not something I’d be against.
“There are so many flow-on effects that we will continue to measure that have a positive effect on the community.
“The social implications [of the trial] for a town like Katherine could be huge.”
Fast facts about the trial
- The trial commenced on December 18 and will run for six months.
- 10 police officers from Darwin will rotate through Katherine on a fortnightly basis for the duration of the trial.
- In the first two weeks, offences against people were down 40.8 per cent - 58 incidents - compared to the same period last year.
- In the first two weeks, offences against businesses were down 73.2 per cent.
- In the first two weeks, only one assault not related to domestic violence was reported in Katherine.