Masked cops with assault rifles, but where are the parents?


Remember John Cleese as Basil Fawlty, expecting guests from Germany and instructing his staff at Fawlty Towers: “Don’t mention the war.”
The parallel for today’s Alice Springs would be – except it’s not funny: “Don’t mention the parents.”
Dealing with juvenile law breaking has now moved from the incompetent to the absurd: This Christmas Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw is sending to Alice Springs camouflaged cops from the Tactical Response Group (TRG) with military-grade assault weapons travelling in armoured cars to deal with 12-year-old kids in the streets.
ABC TV (and other Darwin media) got a preview in Darwin with dramatic footage of a staged arrest, courtesy police (ABC photos).
24100 Task Force ABC 4 OKAll this comes on top of a Royal Commission, estimated to have cost $100m, which made grave findings about the NT Government’s mishandling of juvenile detention. A group of some 100 kids are running riot in Alice Springs, stealing and vandalising. They are putting in doubt the future of the town’s greatest man-made attraction, the National Road Transport Hall of Fame. There’s more, much more.
And all along: “Don’t mention the parents.”
Will the following ever be said – or words to the effect?
“Where is your son Johnny?”
“I don’t know.”
“We’ll be back. If you don’t know where Johnny is by then, we will find him and take him to a place where he is safe, cared for, under control so he can’t break the law, and given the normal life of a child in our community.
“He will stay in that place until you can convince us he will be getting the same care from you, every day, until he is 18.
24100 Task Force ABC 7 OK“And we will put you before the court charged with failing to provide the necessities of life for your child, which is a crime.”
Last time I checked there has not been a single prosecution for that crime in Alice Springs in the recent past – if ever.


  1. Israel here we come! International law prohibits the use of live ammunition on civilians, except as a last resort during an imminent threat of life.
    Tactical Response Group (TRG) with military-grade assault weapons? Blank or rubber bullets?

  2. The trouble is, punishing parents and locking them up isn’t going to teach them to be better parents. Parents in NT already have the highest rates of having their child removal in the country.
    In Europe services exist that help and support parents to parent. People who have grown up with problems at home may never have learnt how to care for children properly. Instead of punishing them, it makes sense to support and educate them in parenting.
    Territory Families is already so strapped for resources and staff, with one case worker responsible for dozens of families, no one could seriously suggest they are doing the necessary support work.
    This punishment mentality is putting more people in prison and making problems worse. Time to move on to actual alternatives.

  3. May be the parents of those darlings, when identified, should be put to the pillory, be shamed on the public place and be judged by their peers.

  4. There is no way a charge like that would ever have a chance of succeeding. This has been discussed many times ad nauseum, and the same old answer comes up.
    The necessities of life, food and shelter, are provided. If the kid chooses to not take advantage of that, that’s their choice. That charge is usually reserved for the worst cases of kids locked in cupboards, covered in cockroaches and faeces, emancipated and malnourished.
    So you are right, there will probably never be a prosecution on that charge ever, as it is for specific, serious cases of child neglect, not letting little Johnny run amok on the streets at night.
    Is this a news report or an editorial / opinion piece? As far as tactical weapons, bear cats and masked operators go? Ha ha, what is the go with the sensationalism of late? Aircraft dumping fuel all over us, gunned up SWAT teams?
    Why not use the TRG, they are specifically trained for covert surveillance and they have the specialized tools. A bit like the reports of the intervention when some media made it sound like the army was rolling in with tanks and machine guns, where it was more like skilled defence force personnel in land cruisers assisting with infrastructure.
    I appreciate the in depth reporting of issues around town, you really don’t need to follow the other trashy tabloids we get here.
    [Hi Ray, The piece is clearly labelled as Comment. I also draw your attention to my response here to “Ged”. Erwin Chlanda, Editor.]

  5. So it’s come to this. A Tactical Response Group may be deployed to Alice to deal with youth crime. And we have no one but ourselves to blame.
    Consider the alternatives.
    The NT Police dare not intervene in youth crime for the simple reason that to so much as look sideways at a juvenile delinquent in action is accompanied with reams of paperwork and the high likelihood of a departmental inquiry and possible legal action.
    The Town Council is not constituted to deal with policing matters. They can and do host meetings to try to reach a community consensus on what to do about children “getting ready for the summer crime spree,” but internal divisions and differing agendas make theirs a fractured voice.
    And while the larger Indigenous organisations often voice their concerns, whatever they may be doing has clearly not worked in past years, and there is little to suggest that this summer will be any different.
    And so now we may be seeing armed and (I assume) masked men (and women?) patrolling our streets, not to deal with organised criminals or national or international terrorists, but to deal with children. How inept are we?

  6. Where exactly did you get the specific information that the TRG would be patrolling Alice Springs with rifles and the Bearcat? Commissioner Kershaw stated that the TRG would support Alice Springs staff with TRG members – I don’t remember the part where he said they’d be cruising with guns and a tank. Just because they have that equipment available doesn’t mean they’d use it. Silly hyperbole.

  7. Hi “Ged” (may I encourage you to use your full name?): Why do you think Commissioner Kershaw provided footage, or the opportunity of obtaining it, to media showing masked TRG members with military-grade assault weapons travelling in armoured cars, when he was being interviewed about police strategies relating to children in Alice Springs?
    And why do you think Chief Minister Michael Gunner felt compelled to tweet subequently: “Police are active in Alice but I can guarantee there are no assault rifles or camouflaged police on patrol. The TRG are in town to support General Duties officers with specialised operational assistance re equipment for night time patrols. All straightforward stuff.”
    Stand by for more, I’m working on an update.
    Kind regards, Erwin Chlanda, Editor.

  8. @ Erwin: I agree with what Hal Duell says. After the recent Royal Commission you cannot touch these children.
    As I have recently travelled through Coober Pedy, Murray Bridge, Meningie who all share the same issues, but they appear to have it under control due to better policing. It was a pleasure to be there.
    I have also noticed how clean these towns are, even they too have the Indigenous population.
    Alice Springs is filthy. It is time Alice Springs stops papering these people just because the town rides on the back of Indigenous people for financial survival.
    If Alice Springs wants tourists, [our tourism managers] need to go and see other towns.


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