The following opinion piece by NTPA President, Paul McCue, was published in the Sunday Territorian on 9 October, 2022.

This week, the NT Labor Government made an extraordinary admission. Crime across the Territory has hit crisis point.
While Ministers were at pains not to specifically use the ‘C’ word, the blunt assessment from Labor Member for Karama, Ngaree Ah Kit on ABC radio that there aren’t enough police to deal with escalating levels of crime, harm, violence, and anti-social behaviour in our community is significant.
Ms Ah Kit’s concession should mark a critical turning point for law-and-order policy from this Government.
It’s the culmination of years of deafening public cries for action, the recent NTPA membership ballot which found 93% of surveyed officers don’t think there are enough police to undertake the roles required of them, and attrition within the NT Police Force reaching an alarming double figure.
Government’s priority should be attracting and retaining police in the NT to combat these issues.
Instead, Labor is now hanging its hat on a second tier of policing. A second tier of policing which are untrained to deal with the crime on our streets.
This Government has chosen to spend $1.5 million each year on private security guards to patrol the streets, while at the same time we have sworn police officers standing out the front of bottle shops as security guards in Katherine, Tennant Creek, and Alice Springs.
That’s right: taxpayers are forking out for security guards patrolling our streets while sworn police officers, trained to deal with crime in our community, are stuck at the front of takeaway liquor outlets.  
Government has its priorities all wrong and the community is suffering.
I am not here to have a crack at the liquor outlets, they are just working within the rules, but to be frank it’s almost as if we are living in some parallel universe.
It is clearly time for urgent reform, and time to rid police of the responsibility of security work at private businesses. 
For those suitable, it is time to immediately convert our 75 funded Police Auxiliary Liquor Inspector (PALI) positions into Constable positions. That would mean more frontline officers to proactively tackle crime and address the staggering levels of domestic violence and alcohol-related harm, something security guards cannot do without police intervention anyway.
Many of our PALI’s would welcome the opportunity to transition to Constable and would be a welcome addition to the frontline. If government want intervention at bottle shops, the use of liquor licence inspectors, or security guards should be the option, not police.
I reckon the community would fancy that idea, so would our Commissioner of Police. It would enable him to continue his positive push to increase remote and regional policing, while placing up to 35 new Constables (as an estimate) throughout the Greater Darwin area and restoring community confidence that there are enough police out there keeping us safe. 
Since the cessation of the Stronger Futures legislation, it has become abundantly clear the role of PALI’s (and by default many Constables) at bottle shops is somewhat futile.

It is time to sit down, work through a process to transition police away from PALI duties and put them back on the streets where they belong, and where the community wants to see them.