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NT Aboriginal justice agency warns boosting police numbers won't solve Territory's problems

Giovanni Torre -

The NT's leading Aboriginal justice agency has raised concerns that the boost in police numbers announced by the Territory's government Wednesday will increase incarceration while doing little to reduce crime.

The government announced it will provide funding for an extra 200 sworn police officers delivered over the next four years.

The extra officers will be in addition to the current sworn officer target of 1642 for the Northern Territory Police Force – taking the total to 1842 over four years.

While the government said the extra police officers "will ensure that the capability of the Northern Territory Police Force to combat crime is increased and responsiveness to the community will improve", the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) warned that extra police were not the answer.

"Currently, the Alice Springs prison is almost full, while the Alice Springs watchhouse has 21 prisoners for which it is not equipped," a NAAJA spokesperson told National Indigenous Times.

"NAAJA holds serious concerns that today's announcement of more police will further contribute to the mass incarceration of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

"We need culturally-informed, Aboriginal community driven solutions instead of tried-and-failed policies like more police that leads to the ever-increasing imprisonment of Aboriginal people."

The Agency spokesperson said the Territory needs greater investment in "evidence-based solutions that tackle the underlying causes of offending and to support people with employment, education, health, and training".

The Territory government said a recruitment drive to attract new recruits from across the Northern Territory and the nation will commence after the Budget.

Chief Minister Eva Lawler said investing more in the Northern Territory Police Force "so they can have the right amount of officers available to combat crime each day" is a "key plank" of the government's "common sense plan to lower crime".

"Reducing crime is my top priority and we will work tirelessly to improve community safety right across the Territory," she said.

NT Police Minister Brent Potter said the police "do an incredible job every day to keep our community safe and we are investing in building up the Northern Territory Police Force so they have everything they need to do their job".

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