July 19, 2024

Alice Springs will go into a three-night curfew following a weekend of crime in the town, including the alleged assault of four off-duty police officers.

Northern Territory Police Commissioner Michael Murphy declared the curfew this afternoon, which will prevent people of all ages going into the city centre between 10pm and 6am over the next three nights without good reason.

“Some of those reasons are if you’re fleeing from domestic violence, if you’re visiting family, if you have to care for someone, if you’re here for employment purposes, if you go into a fast food restaurant or some lawful purpose,” Murphy said.

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He said the curfew area would cover “Anzac Hill, Schwarz Crescent, down to the hospital, from the Stuart Highway across to Leichhardt and Stott Terrace”.

The curfew comes on the back of a weekend that was littered with several incidents of alleged violent crime.

A group of four off-duty police officers were allegedly assaulted by a group of 20 young men in the early hours of Sunday, while another officer was allegedly run over by a drunk driver outside a bottle shop.

“The offending in Alice Springs over the last few days has been unacceptable,” NT Chief Minister Eva Lawler said.

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“The curfew will provide police extra powers to get on top of the situation on the ground in Alice Springs.”

The curfew is the second that has been declared in Alice Springs in the last few months, coming after children were barred from a restricted area in the town’s centre during night-time hours between late March and mid-April.

The current declaration was made under new laws introduced in May, which gives the police commissioner the power to enforce a 72-hour curfew.

Murphy said he will consider requesting an extension of the curfew if required.

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“If there is a continuation of harmful conduct, which I hope there is not, we apply some measures now and use the community to help us we should see a turnaround,” he said.

“If that continues and there’s some behaviour that still concerns me, I can apply for a 72-hour (extension) for a different area or go to the (police) minister for another seven days.”

Lawler said she believed the curfew would be an effective “circuit breaker”, but Swinburne University criminology expert Dr Joel McGregor said longer-term measures were required for broader change in the region.

“To address any crime problem, interventions that lead to long-term behaviour change are required,” he said.

“While the Northern Territory curfew may be stopping crimes being perpetuated during the evening, it should not be thought of as a solution to the problems the state is facing.

“It is a short-term intervention measure, as the need to reintroduce the curfew has indicated.” 

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