Rebecca Hewitt, Northern Territory News news.com.au, Mar. 23
Aboriginal people were yesterday begged to stop committing crimes
Justice Minister Peter Toyne said: “I’m calling on all indigenous people … stop breaking the law, for God’s sake.”
He said the number of Aborigines in Territory jails was “unacceptable”.
But the minister said: “If people continue to break the law, we have to continue to put them in jail.”
Dr Toyne was speaking after the latest statistics showed that violent crime was on the increase in Darwin, Katherine and Tennant Creek.
At Katherine, 78 per cent of assaults were committed by indigenous people and 68 per cent of the victims were also Aboriginal.
This is despite the fact only a third of Katherine’s population is indigenous.
About 67 per cent of the assaults were committed while the assailant was drunk and a weapon was used in 42 per cent of cases.
Dr Toyne said the Territory Government would increase police numbers at Katherine by five, and encourage more co-operation between night patrols, police and indigenous communities.
“This is largely an issue of domestic violence, male on female,” Dr Toyne said.
“It’s a pretty ugly picture.
“People have to know that this behaviour is not acceptable _ we have to improve community mobilisation against offenders.”
The situation has improved at Alice Springs over the past year: compared with 2002, assaults decreased from 234 to 206 and sexual assaults fell from 19 to eight.
Property damage went down about 30 per cent and theft of or from motor vehicles fell by 38 per cent.
But there was an increase in violent crime in Darwin.
Sexual assault increased by 33 per cent and assault went up by 10 per cent.
But property crime continues to fall. Household and commercial break-ins decreased by 32 per cent since this time last year and motor vehicle thefts went down 22 per cent.
“We’re very pleased to have consolidated the drop in property crime,” Dr Toyne said.
“But with violent crime, we haven’t made a significant impact.”
Opposition Leader Terry Mills welcomed the drop in property crime but said violent crime continued to be the Territory’s “new problem”.
“No wonder Territorians are fearful of their safety,” he said.