Mayor fears return to “bad days”

Mayor says the removal of bottle shop cops a mistake


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MOOD SWING: Katherine police said the change in town was related to an influx of people from outlying communities.

MOOD SWING: Katherine police said the change in town was related to an influx of people from outlying communities.

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The days of the wild west seem to have returned to the streets of Katherine.

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Many Katherine residents are concerned by an apparent increase in public drunkenness and violence in town. 

Katherine mayor Fay Miller said there had been a backward slide in anti-social behaviour in Katherine in only a few weeks.

“I am not happy about it,” Mayor Miller said.

“It is noticeable walking down our main street. I have been concerned for a while now but it does seem to be escalating. 

“We are headed back to three years ago, to those bad days,” she said. 

Katherine police said the change in town was related to an influx of people from outlying communities. 

“Police are seeing increased activity in Katherine as people move into the town from remote communities ahead of the holiday season,” Katherine division Supt Lauren Hill said. 

Mayor Miller said the removal of permanent police presence in Katherine bottle shops was the reason.  

"Unfortunately it is evident that the Banned Drinkers Register is not doing the job it is supposed to do," Mayor Miller said.

“It signalled to people with an alcohol problem that they could start buying grog again.

“We had the whole town cleaned up, but now we are heading backwards. 

"People wanted police to stayed in the bottle shops.”

She said the previous POSI policy "was not broken and therefore did not need to be fixed".

A police spokeswoman said Katherine police are still in the bottle shops.

The Katherine Times has been told this information is incorrect, and police have rarely been seen in retail alcohol outlets for the past fortnight.

“Police continue to operate Temporary Beat Locations in Katherine,” the spokeswoman said. 

“NT police remain committed to working in partnership with other government agencies, and the community, to limit the supply of alcohol to vulnerable people.

“In addition, police will continue to target and combat the secondary supply of alcohol.”

The past two Northern Territory governments have resorted to drastic measures to control alcohol related violence and anti-social behavior in Katherine and across the territory.

The CLP introduced  temporary beat locations where police officers checked licenses and managed the sale of alcohol at bottle shops in Katherine, otherwise known as point of sale intervention. 

We had the whole town cleaned up, but now we are heading backwards. - Mayor Fay Miller

This September the Labor Government reintroduced the BDR  where all customers’ licenses are scanned by bottle shop staff and denied sale if they were on the register.

Mayor Fay Miller said she was alarmed at the state of the streets.

“The CEO and I are drafting a letter to send to the police commissioner and also the chief minister expressing our concern,” Mayor Miller said. 

“We are seeking the community’s support on this issue. Get in touch with us and let us know how you feel.”

Katherine Town Council chief executive Rob Jennings said staff were finding a lot of more broken glass in the town's rubbish.

"It might have a lot to do with what is happening in the bottle shops," Mr Jennings said.

The story Mayor fears return to “bad days” first appeared on Katherine Times.

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