Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
ABC News
ABC News
Lee Robinson

NT Police kick off Operation Drina in Alice Springs, dozens of arrests made in first week

Northern Territory Police say the presence of 40 additional frontline officers in Alice Springs, deployed last week after a spate of serious criminal incidents, is already showing positive results.

High visibility patrols have increased predominantly around the Central Australian town's CBD since last Wednesday.

However, there are some concerns the response will not have a lasting impact on reducing crime and antisocial behaviour.

Northern Territory Police Superintendent James Gray-Spence said the additional measures, labelled Operation Drina, had been focused on "proactive policing" and "targeted enforcement".

"What we're seeing is an increase in incidence in police, but a decrease in demand-driven events and an increase in proactive events," he said.

"The biggest part of it is actually … arresting the people who have committed those crimes, putting them on restraint or taking them into custody, and then monitoring that so that they can't re-offend.

"Now it's about just taking that forward and keeping police on the front foot."

Operations bringing results

An NT Police spokesperson said over the course of a week there had been a number of outcomes in Alice Springs, including:

  • 229 litres of liquor destroyed
  • 168 persons taken into protective custody
  • 24 arrests
  • 21 notices to appear issued
  • 29 traffic infringement notices

Prior to announcing Operation Drina last Wednesday, police issued an alert in the morning, urging residents to avoid the town's CBD for the second time in as many weeks.

It later emerged that stolen vehicles had been rampaging through the streets and were being used to ram a police vehicle — a concerning trend, which police believe had been popularised on social media.

Welcome reprieve for businesses

NT Chamber of Commerce chief operations officer Nicole Walsh said the business community welcomed the additional police in Alice Springs.

"We've had great conversations with members about being able to see the police in the CBD, as well as all the stuff that we know is going on behind the [scenes] as well," she said.

Ms Walsh acknowledged the town could not "arrest its way out" of the current predicament but said the response was necessary for the immediate term.

"This is like a circuit breaker," she said.

"We've brought in the extra resources. We're making people feel safe again — that's a really big part of it.

"But we all need to work together as a community to look at this, to look at different ways of doing things."

NT Police statistics show commercial break-ins soared 67 per cent in Alice Springs for the 12 months ending in October compared with the previous year.

Alcohol-related assaults and domestic violence-related assaults both rose 43 per cent over the same period.

Concerns over long-term impacts

Tyson Carmody, managing director of Kings Narrative, a men's behaviour change program, said it was important to address safety concerns in the community.

But the Arrernte man questioned the consequences that might flow from the extra boots on the ground.

"Is this actually going to be effective? Is it going to be impactful the way it needs to be?" he said.

"Whenever we as individuals react in a knee-jerk reaction to anything, we often don't consider the repercussions of that knee-jerk reaction."

Mr Carmody said he was concerned that more young people might end up in the justice system as a result.

"We all know that the sooner kids come into contact with police, and that relationship starts, it's a slippery slope," he said.

"There definitely needs to be some drastic measures taken and considered, and I think investing in those services and programs [is necessary], where they can have greater impact and reach to prevent — rather than react — as much as possible.

"But they're long-term things, and [police are] looking for a short-term fix to a long-term problem."

Operation Drina is currently set to conclude on December 14, but Superintendent Gray-Spence said that would not necessarily spell the end of the additional resourcing for Alice Springs.

"What we're working on now with the team is what Drina looks like post-December 14, all the way through the peak period here in Alice Springs through summer and to the end of January," he said.

"Whether that's Operation Drina or whether that's something else.

"We have to be mindful that every week we have to look at the intelligence … if the crime patterns shift, or the crime types surge in different areas, then we need to address that."

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.