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Intervention has curbed murder rate, say poli -

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BRENDAN TREMBATH: As the Federal Government begins its 12 month review of the Northern Territory
intervention, police in the town of Alice Springs have offered their opinion.

They say the intervention has helped bring about a drop in the number of murders.

It's not long ago that Alice Springs gained the title - murder capital of Australia.

In some years there have been 13 murders in the town of around 23,000 people.

But police say in the past nine months there's been only one murder.

They've put the drop down to alcohol restrictions as well as measures introduced under the
intervention.

Sara Everingham reports.

SARA EVERINGHAM: For police in Alice Springs attending murder scenes has been fairly regular work
but Superintendent Sean Parnell says things are changing.

SEAN PARNELL: The murder rate at the moment, has obviously for a number of decades been
unacceptably high in Alice Springs. There's no doubt about that and certainly the rate at the
moment is probably the lowest it's been in the last 20 or 30 years I would suggest.

SARA EVERINGHAM: What are the numbers then?

SEAN PARNELL: Okay. Look historically if we go back we have had anything between six up to 13
murders - that is over the last 10 years or so. This year we have only had one murder tragically
and certainly for the last quarter last year we had none so for the three quarters, the last three
quarters, we have only had one murder and that is a historical low. There is no doubt about that.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Superintendent Sean Parnell says the drop is due to alcohol restrictions in the
town but also the Commonwealth intervention in the Northern Territory.

SEAN PARNELL: We've noticed a marked difference in alcohol consumption and anti-social behaviour
and some of the ensuing violence since things like income quarantine started in Alice Springs.

So certainly from our perspective looking at it on face value, you'd certainly say that had an
effect.

Some of the other things, making the town camps restricted areas and dry. Yeah, we still have some
problems. There still is a bit of drinking. We are working to try and address that and try to
prevent that and prosecute the offenders but certainly just in the initial stages, yeah there has
been some noticeable effect and obviously the figures, particularly the murder rate, speak for
this.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Recently an Alice Springs doctor reported a sharp decline in stabbings in Alice
Springs

He put that down to alcohol restrictions and the Northern Territory intervention.

A public health expert in Alice Springs, Dr John Boffa has been monitoring the changes but he says
it's too early to tell exactly what role the intervention has played.

JOHN BOFFA: It is possible that welfare quarantining have contributed to people purchasing less
alcohol. It is possible that the town camp being declared dry has led to much greater policing of
the town camps and what the police are calling preventative policing.

So they're in there and they're able to take action early because of those laws.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Dr John Boffa has long been an advocate for alcohol restrictions in Alice Springs
and he believes its limits on the sale of alcohol that have had the greatest impact on violence.

JOHN BOFFA: We have to bear in mind that the impact that has been had in terms of reducing
population alcohol consumption in Alice Springs has nothing to do with the intervention primarily.
The only thing that may have contributed to that is the welfare quarantining and that only affects
20 per cent of the Aboriginal population of the town.

SARA EVERINGHAM: More will be known once the Federal Government completes its 12 month review of
the Northern Territory intervention.

The Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin announced the members of the review board last week

It's due to report by the 30th of September.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Sara Everingham reporting.