Cops ‘provoking Indigenous drinkers before jailing them'
POLICE are entering Aboriginal Territorians' homes up to five times a week to tip out alcohol and following them home from bottle shops to impound their vehicles, town camp residents say.
Kulaluk Community leader Helen Secretary said while the town camps on Dick Ward Dr were federally restricted areas in which alcohol is banned, residents doing no more than sharing a drink in their own home felt harassed by the overzealous enforcement.
Ms Secretary said the random police visits meant otherwise law abiding drinkers could be jailed or have their cars impounded, despite no complaint being made to police.
"The police come in, they walk into their units, tip out their alcohol - and being intoxicated they try and stand their ground - it's like they come and provoke and then they've got the right to lock them up," she said.
"They're not out anti-social behaving, they're not stealing, their not belting (people), they're sitting in their own residences.
"Yes, they drink, it's their choice, we can't stop them but the way the police come in, they provoke them."
Meanwhile, Ms Secretary said at least two residents had had their cars impounded for the crime of bringing a cask of wine home with them from the shops, including her teetotalling aunt who is on dialysis and previously used her car to get to medical appointments.
"She made a mistake, she took a family member up to the Sabine shop, the police were sitting in a plain car watching her, she bought a box of chardonnay," she said.
"Another incident happened a month later, my ex-sister in law, they followed her from the bottle shop, same shop … it's like they sit there and target the blackfellas.
"(They) followed her into the community, gave her a fine to go to court, confiscated the car, she had to pay a $900 fee (before) they gave the car back."
Ms Secretary said while she and other town camp residents did not drink, those that made a different choice should be free to do so in their own homes.
But while the federal laws remained in place she said community leaders were powerless to act.
"We've already done two alcohol management plans and we're trying to put it in place but until the federal (government) give it back to the Territory, our hands are tied," she said.
A spokesman for NT Police declined to comment.
Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt was contacted for comment.