NT's 'tough-on-crime' approach not working as young people jailed over TikTok copycat ramraids – ABC News

NT's 'tough-on-crime' approach not working as young people jailed over TikTok copycat ramraids
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The head of Northern Territory police says his officers have "filled the jails" as TikTok-related dangerous driving continues in Alice Springs.
NT police have twice in two weeks issued early morning safety alerts for the Alice Springs CBD, following dangerous driving episodes in the town's centre.
Early Wednesday morning, two stolen four-wheel drives attempted to ram police vehicles, which Commissioner Jamie Chalker said resulted in the arrests of a 16-year-old and a 14-year-old. 
The incident prompted police to pull 40 officers from remote stations and other sections of the force to patrol the community, but he was doubtful further arrests were the answer.  
"We've broken the record four times this year already for the most number of adults ever incarcerated in the Northern Territory," he said. 
Fifty-six young people are currently incarcerated in the NT, and police have apprehended 80 young people in Alice Springs over the last four weeks. 
"That speaks to far greater underlying social problems," he said.
The additional resources will be targeting repeat offenders through home visits to make sure the children "are critically aware that we are monitoring their movement as best as possible." 
Central Australian Youth Justice Network chair Kirsten Wilson said it was clear a tough-on-crime approach was not working. 
"We need a government that is willing to commit to long-term resourcing and investment into the root drivers of crime, such as poverty, housing and education," she said. 
Wednesday's ram raid is the third time stolen vehicles have been used in the NT to ram police vehicles, following other incidents in Alice Springs and Katherine. 
The incidents appeared on TikTok shortly after they happened and gained the post a quick viral status. 
Kirsten Engels said she believed the social media platform "had an element to play" in the behaviour.
"There are a lot of ramraids on TikTok … New Zealand is going through a similar spate right now," she said. 
Belinda Barnet, Senior lecturer in Social Media at Swinburne University, said it was important that videos of crimes were reported quickly so the platform could remove them. 
"And secondly … don't play the content that was made by the perpetrator of the crime because that's rewarding them." Dr Barnet said.
But most importantly, Dr Barnet said TikTok-inspired crimes were a symptom of greater social problems. 
"In the long run, you need to address the underlying social issues that mean they need to seek empowerment or kudos via TikTok instead of living their lives in some other way," she said.  
Commissioner Chalker said his officers had "packed up to leave their homes" to respond to issues in Alice Springs. 
Senior vice president of the Northern Territory Police Association Lisa Bayliss said a summer surge in operations was to be expected but this year's pressure on officers had started early. 
Ms Bayliss said there was clearly a need for additional officers in the town, but said this would come at the cost of "core business".
Ms Bayliss attributed the recent spate of antisocial behaviour to the repeal of Stronger Futures legislation which saw a number of town camps and communities gain access to alcohol. 
"There's been an increase in domestic violence in alcohol-related offences, and obviously, there's an impact on the youth who are not in a safe environment," she said. 
Alice Springs Mayor Matt Paterson said the NT government should consider calling upon the federal government to assist.
"If the NT government can't address the crime issues, it's okay to ask the federal government for help," Mr Paterson said.
"[They could] come and assist Alice Springs residents to make sure that they're safe and make sure our CBD is not getting closed in the middle of a week due to antisocial behaviour."
Police Minister Kate Worden said the NT government was equipped to handle the crime wave.
"We don't need to be alarmist about these issues," Ms Worden said.
"We have surged resources … into Alice Springs. I'm hearing already that [police] have been able to arrest a number of offenders in Alice Springs. This is an operational matter."
Ms Worden also reiterated that the NT government was close to implementing a policy that will see children found on the streets late at night in Alice Springs removed from their family homes.
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