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South Australian police drafted in to enact Mparntwe curfew

Dechlan Brennan -

Additional police from South Australia will be sent to Mparntwe/Alice Springs to help manage the youth curfew at the request of the Northern Territory police commissioner.

The 14-day curfew for anyone 18-years-of-age or under was enacted by the NT Government last week to help curb youth crime. 

On Friday, it was announced 20 SA police officers would continue the “high presence, high-visibility policing" in the embattled town ahead of the proposed end of the curfew on Wednesday. 

NT Deputy Police Commissioner Martin Dole said the SA police had “offered to help come down and boost our resources.”

"With the recent weather events we've seen numerous people from the APY Lands stranded in Alice Springs and that's increased the population,” Mr Dole said. 

He said this would allow some of the officers currently in Mparntwe/Alice Springs to return to Darwin, with 58 having been redeployed from the Territory capital when the curfew was announced. 

An NT government spokesperson confirmed the NT would be paying for the deployment, which will see two one-week rotations of 10 SA police come to relieve the Darwin-based officers, according to the ABC.

Opposition Indigenous spokesperson Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has previously called for the deployment of the ADF to the town, and called the whole curfew a “band-aid” solution.

"Prime Minister Albanese needs to go back to Alice Springs, needs to deploy the ADF, needs to have a presence in our community to make people of Alice Springs feel some sense of safety once and for all," Senator Price told Sky News last week. 

Mr Dole said calm had been restored to the town, which saw three young people removed from the CBD on Thursday, down from over 20 on Sunday evening. 

“I think you can see the feeling in the population of Alice Springs that are out for dinner, in the evenings out in the mall and enjoying the open spaces and the beautiful weather that we’ve got down here at the moment,” he said. 

The legality of the curfew has been questioned by the NT police union, who said they had received legal advice that the emergency powers used by the NT government may not be lawful and could be at risk of a legal challenge, which has so far not come to fruition. 

Opinions have been divided on the necessity of the curfew, with some groups arguing it is a circuit breaker that is needed for the embattled town, whilst others - including Amnesty International Australia, NATSILS and NAAJA - have criticised the decision as "knee-jerk" and unlikely to help the issue of youth crime.

The announcement of the extra SA officers comes as the NT Government has pushed police funding heavily, announcing they would continue to fund a new unit, the Territory Safety Division (TSD) on an ongoing basis, with $16 million of funding guaranteed per year. 

On Wednesday, Chief Minister Eva Lawler committed $200 million to recruit 200 more officers for the NT Police over the next four years. 

Police Minister Brent Potter said the NT needed a “comprehensive and common-sense plan to lower crime,” and argued funding the TSD was part of that.

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