UPDATED: November 1, 2012, 12.28pm. See graph at the bottom.
The small drop in the most recent 12 months builds on a big drop in the preceding 12 months
By KIERAN FINNANE
Protective custody statistics shown in the Police Annual Report, tabled in the Legislative Assembly yesterday, show a considerable drop in police protective custodies over the last six years, with a big hike in the middle period followed by a big drop in 2010-11 (see graph below).
This puts a different complexion on the recent mileage made by NT Attorney-General John Elferink of the small drop in police PCs between 2010-11 and 2011-12. A small drop building on a big drop is a better look for where alcohol policy was heading than just a small drop on its own. Mr Elferink interpreted the small drop as evidence of the failure of the Banned Drinkers Register, rolled out across 2011-12.
The Alice Springs News Online asked for more detailed statistics, specific to Alice Springs. We repeated our request this week but to date we have had no reply (sounds familiar – same spots on this different leopard).
Turning to the six-year picture in the Police Annual Report, in all years the numbers involving Indigenous males tower over the rest, but over the six-year period they have dropped by more than 5000, from 17,375 in 2006-07 to 11,926 in 2011-12.
The next largest category is Indigenous females, over the six years dropping by a little more than 2000, from 7432 in 2006-07 to 5378 in 2011-12.
The figures for non-Indigenous females have risen, but the numbers are small: 131 in 2006-07, 171 in 2011-12. The figures for non-Indigenous males have fallen by some 200, from 1509 to 1296.
In 2011-12 there is an unusually high number of people in the Indigenous status unknown category, due to a changing in recording practices. All up these cases accounted for 1214 police PCs, 683 of them female.
Looking at totals, there has been a drop from 26,448 in 2006-07 to 19,988 in 2011-12. In between the figures climbed to a shocking high of 35,872 in 2009-10, not far off the 35,397 of the preceding 12 months. The big jump from 2007-08 was in the Indigenous male category (up by 4382), followed by the Indigenous female category (up by 1669). These peaks were followed by a big fall in 2010-11 to 20,354, with figures for Indigenous males and females both dropping below the levels recorded in 2006-07.
The police PC stats however – as pointed out in the report – do not give a full picture as they don’t include people taken to sobering up shelters, taken home or left in the care of a responsible person.
Below: The graph illustrates the sustained drop in police Protective Custodies, NT-wide. One factor that may have contributed to the big drop in 2010-11, as pointed out by Bob Durnan in the comment below, is the ban on cheap wine in large casks (4 and 5 litres). This was made NT-wide effective from January 1, 2011, bringing Darwin and Palmerston into line with the other major urban centres and most towns of the NT where the ban already existed. The Licensing Commission noted in its decision, that prior to the ban, “the Darwin / Palmerston areas were defying the downward trend with alcohol sales and consumption increasing, while a decline was being experienced in the rest of the Territory”.