By ERWIN CHLANDA
The outspoken People’s Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC) wants the public to keep an eye on the presence of police officers performing TBL duties at bottle shops.
They have started a Facebook site where people can record their observations which PAAC volunteers will be evaluating.
Spokesperson John Boffa says the website is separate from the PAAC site so that people not necessarily in agreement with the group’s policies can feel comfortable with the TBL (which stands for Temporary Beat Locations) initiative.
Dr Boffa says it was started because it appears that whenever there are no cops at bottlos the work load at the hospital emergency department (ED) increases.
“We call on the NT Government to ensure there are enough officers to cover all bottle shops without the frequent and recurrent gaps that have occurred this year,” he says.
“We need to see whether the new Banned Drinkers’ Register (BDR) is able to reduce harm to the same extent as TBLs. This is an empirical question that needs to be answered with data.
“The frequent police absences and their appalling consequences just go on and on, despite Chief Minister Gunner having made it very clear that he expects full coverage.”
TBL functions “will hopefully soon be done by authorised licensing inspectors, instead of police,” says Dr Boffa.
Whenever there are gaps in police attendance at bottle shops the crime rate goes up and that in turn creates the need to further divert police from TBL.
“This is preventable harm. PAAC is aware that the hospital has told the police about it; in fact the hospital has requested that police base an officer in the ED if they cannot maintain full TBL coverage.
“That is how serious a difference the gaps make.
“We understand the Flynn Drive IGA supermarket closed its doors early twice last week due to serious trouble associated with excessive drinking, including a severe stabbing.”
A spokesperson for the supermarket says one closure was due to the power cut, but the liquor store closed early on Wednesday after an incident outside the store. Someone had been hurt and police and ambulance had attended.
“As people were milling around the manager closed the supermarket until people dispersed.”
By ERWIN CHLANDA