Offenders bailed to 'country': An option, says police


2517 Reece P Kershaw 1By ERWIN CHLANDA
Some charged offenders, including juveniles, should be bailed  “to country” and these bail conditions should be enforced: That is one of “the sorts of things we will be looking at,” said Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw in Alice Springs today.
“But we take advice from some of our non-government partners and some of our government agencies.”
He announced 38 additional police to bolster the new Operation Haven, targeting domestic violence that has “continued to escalate in the last five years and beyond”.
Commander Kershaw says there were 680 domestic violence incidents in Alice alone in December and about 540 in January.
Territory-wide there were 25,000 incidents last year, up from 22,000.
“It is steadily increasing every year.” More than half are repeat offenders within a year.
As youth crime is out of control, according to many Alice Springs locals, Commissioner Kershaw says some offenders “do not have the means to make their way back” to their communities.
“That’s where they come from, that’s where they reside, and our intelligence indicates often they stay here [in Alice Springs] for too long and get themselves into trouble.”
He says there will be 41 new police between March and May this year, some deployed into remote areas to “case manage those who are on bail out there”.
PHOTO: Police Commissioner Kershaw is pictured with Commander, Domestic and Personal Violence Command, Kris Evans and Acting Commander Bradley Currie (centre).


  1. “Bailed to country and bail conditions enforced.” Outstanding idea Reece Kershaw. The sooner the better, but of course police will need to be in place and consistent in tenure in communities. One thing is for certain, there are far too many people walking the streets of this town on feet of no direction.

  2. Back in 2011 when CLP were returned to Government I wrote a number of discussion papers for David Tollner, my local member, including dealing with drunkenness and domestic violence. In the six plus years since then the situation has got worse. A radical rethink outside the square is needed. What I wrote then follows.
    (Some thought on addressing the problem)
    • It is a right of all Australians above the age of 18 to drink alcohol but not to take drugs.
    • Alcoholism (and drug taking) is a disease that very few can overcome without help.
    • Untreated, costs the community and families dearly.
    • A major problem is in identifying those who drink alcohol (and take drugs) to a point where anti social behaviour or domestic violence results and being able to do something about it.
    • Organisations have attempted to tackle the problem on their own by banning problem drinkers. There is no coordination and addresses only that particular establishment.
    • Alcoholism (and drug dependency) is a community problem and can only be addressed with the support of the community as a whole.
    Penalising all to control the few is counter-productive.
    What is proposed is for those who cause problems due to alcohol be identified and restricted from drinking. The system would be managed by the police with assistance of associated support agencies as follows:
    Any time police are involved and it appears that alcohol is a contributing factor, such as:
    • Drunk in a public place with offensive behaviour;
    • Drunk and fighting in localities such as in or adjacent to sports grounds, clubs, or any public place where police are called;
    • In the home where police have been called in a domestic violence situation. or
    • Trashing public or private property while drunk including spraying graffiti;
    then those involved be taken into custody and identified by fixing a non-removable individually numbered wristband to be placed on only by police and removed only by police. Those banded would be on a police database and an individual would be required to attend a police station after a set period where the band would be removed. Removal would include an administrative fee that covers costs.
    ‘Banding’ would be done after confirmation that alcohol was involved (confirmed by breathalyser, blood and/or urine sample).
    It would include positive ID including personal details, photograph and fingerprinting and even DNA. These would be retained on a data base for police use but not admissible in a court unless other charges were laid at time of banding. The above would also identify drug use.
    The banding of a person should not involve a court appearance unless other charges are proposed including refusing to provide breath, and/or blood or urine samples or personal identification.
    The right of a banded individual to enter and be in a club or pub environment or such is not restricted. What is restricted is the right of that person to drink alcohol while banded.
    To manage, every liquor outlet in the NT be posted with a notice that states that in purchasing alcohol it is a requirement that the purchasers wrist be shown to the person serving. If an individual does not or refuses to show their wrist then it is an offence to serve or sell them alcohol. Further, it would be an offence for a banded person to purchase alcohol. It would be an offence for a person to purchase alcohol for a banded person. If an offence is proven then the offender be banded including a monetary fine.
    Banding should be looked on as a management tool to assist in breaking the dependence on alcohol (or drugs) that result in anti social behaviour.
    It should be the responsibility of every person to assist those with an alcohol (or drug) problem to overcome that problem.
    Police and others would have authority to carry out random checks of those banded to ensure compliance including home visitation.
    Banding to be a minimum of three months to double consecutively for repeat offences. In the case of domestic violence six months first offence, doubling consecutively.
    During time banded, a minimum of 25 hours of alcohol counselling be required and double that if domestic violence involved.
    Removal of a band at a police station, dependant on evidence of completion of counselling course and payment of a fee. The fee to be a deterrent and would cover cost of band, banding and administrative charges.
    To limit abuse of system it is proposed that following additional penalties be set.
    • Removing of band other than by police. $1000 and /or three months prison plus re banding for extended period.
    • Refusing to show wrist and then refusing to leave premises or environs. $200. To include removal to a police station where identification against database checked.
    • A licensee or employee knowingly supplying alcohol to a banded person. $1000 and referral to Liquor Commission for action.
    • Person selling alcohol not requiring purchaser to show arm or serving customer who it can be reasonably expected to be purchasing for a banded person – $50 for each occasion. An employee must refuse service if any doubt.
    • Knowingly purchasing alcohol for banded person. If drinking themselves then seizure / tipping out and banding.
    • Refusing to provide air, blood, urine samples or ID. $1000 and banding.
    Monetary fines and prison sentences would require a court appearance. The judiciary should not have the luxury of imposing meaningless penalties.
    Where at all possible, sentences to be served in a work camp managed by an outsourced company separate from the prison system. To include compulsory alcohol counselling programs run concurrently. This could involve community work in a Territory park or community.
    The concept of banding be extended to all situations involving drugs whether alcohol involved or not.

  3. Alcohol does play a big part in a lot of these troubles but right alongside this story in the Alice Springs News, is an IGA Lhere Artepe advertisement advertising liquor amongst food items available.
    I wonder if Lhere Artepe representing Native Title holders of Alice Springs, will be one of the non government partners involved in giving advice to police?
    First should be, that Lhere Artepe have a moral conscience and give up their grog license for the sake of Aboriginal people. Demonstrate true leadership.

  4. David, it’s not just Lhere Artepe selling grog but other major Aboriginal groups in town have also tried to make money out of selling grog.
    The Memo Club was funded by CentreCorp and behind that was the Central Land Council and Congress.
    Yes Congress, recipient of $40m a year from taxpayers to improve Aboriginal health was on the CentreCorp Board that supported grog sales, mostly to Aboriginal people.

  5. Domestic violence has dramatically increased since Point of Sale Intervention at the bottle shops was suspended.
    Domestic violence related assault:
    (01/12/2016 – 30/11/2017) = 951 (~79/month)
    December 2017 = 680
    January 2018 = 540
    If the next 10 months continue at the same rate as December and January there will be 7320 assaults – up 770%!
    Numbers from NT police web site.

  6. We have to start and address the issues. Graeme Hockey’s banding would be a great step in the right direction, with mandatory time lines and fines as suggested. Keep it from the lawyers and judges.
    And bailed to country: Just give it a try, nothing ventured nothing gained.

  7. @ Jones: Let us not forget, these organizations have people behind them, guiding them and making well informed decisions for the benefits of the community.
    If my memory serves me correctly, our highly visible, competent, defender of Alice Springs, young MLA Chansey Paech, was on the board of directors of CAAC around the time the Memo Club was in full swing.

  8. @ Jones: Well, you would think all those mentioned Aboriginal interests who were involved or still involved in the selling of grog to Aboriginal people, would have a prick of conscience and consider working with police on the “bailed to country” and bail conditions, instead of calling for more cops at the grog outlets.
    In times past up in Tennant Creek, when there were good working relationships between police and Aboriginal organisations, trespass notices were taken out against persistent trouble makers from out of town in Aboriginal controlled establishments by the organisations and it would be supported by police making sure those trouble makers were on the next bus out of town.
    Bail to country could work on similar lines for the whole town. There needs to be a holistic approach to this proposed option by police. There needs to be a break and respite to the ongoing problems.


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