Darwin gallery owner Paul Arnold builds a panic room in his shop amid city chaos and crime
Retailers in Darwin have warned that increasingly violent behavior by locals has caused businesses to lose money and evict shoppers in droves, with one shopkeeper being forced to set up a “panic room” in his store.
Shopkeepers at Smith Street shopping center in central Darwin have called on government and authorities for help amid a dramatic rise in crime, claiming locals are fighting inside their shops and threatening customers.
Photographer and Darwin Councilor Paul Arnold said the rise in crime has forced him to set up a lockable panic room at his CBD gallery – the Paul Arnold Gallery – for himself and his staff.
Darwin CBD Gallery owner Paul Arnold (pictured) was forced to set up a lockable panic room for himself and his staff due to rising antisocial and violent behavior in the community
“If the store gets vandalized, the store gets vandalized and they can watch on CCTV and call the police,” he told the ABC.
Mr Arnold said it was the “worst Christmas” he had experienced in his 15 years in the city.
“People vote with their feet and don’t come to town,” he said.
“Small business costs are spiraling out of control.”
Mr Arnold said there have been many meetings between retailers, government officials and the police but these have not been effective in addressing shopkeepers’ growing concerns.
“Police need to keep our retailers and business owners in the CBD and customers need to protect them and I’m sorry they don’t,” he said.
Shopkeepers at Smith Street shopping center in central Darwin have called for help from government and authorities amid a dramatic rise in crime (Smith Street shopping center picture shown).
Ashvin Gill, who also owns a shop at the mall, said she had to lock the front door of her shop because drunk and violent locals were trying to force entry.
“As the front face of this business, in addition to my job, I have to keep my own safety and that of my customers at all times and be aware that it can be quite overwhelming and exhausting,” she said.
Police crime statistics from Darwin show a dramatic increase in commercial burglaries of 52 percent and property damage by 24.5 percent between 2020 and 2022.
Smith Street Mall store owner Ashvin Gill said she had to lock the front door of her store because drunk and violent locals were trying to gain entry (Smith Street Mall pictured).
NT Police Deputy Commissioner Janelle Tonkin told Daily Mail Australia officers were working with the NT Police Alcohol Investigation Unit to identify “anti-social behavior trends and hotspots” in Greater Darwin and Palmerston.
“The NT police … are out in the mall district almost every day to support City Safe Operations staff,” she said.
“NT Police continue to actively investigate reported matters and where evidence exists, and bring perpetrators to justice.”
Acting Deputy Commissioner Tonkin urged NT business owners to report crimes to police with “reasonable detail” so that adequate investigations can be conducted.
She also said police are working with authorities “to identify high-risk areas and cohorts of people likely to contribute to crime and antisocial behavior in the CBD” and “address the causes and effects of antisocial behavior and outreach.” to connect services to those in need or people living in poverty”.
Acting Deputy Commissioner Janelle Tonkin (pictured) said police are working with NT Police Alcohol Investigation to identify “anti-social behavior trends and hotspots” across Darwin
Last August, a survey conducted by the NT Police Union found low morale and high rates of attrition within the force, leading union President Paul McCue to declare that the police force was “in a complete crisis” (NT Police archive image).
The territory’s ongoing uphill battle with crime comes amid a crisis within the state police force.
In August 2022, a poll conducted by the NT Police Union found low morale and high attrition rates within the force after several police regions requested a vote of no confidence in NT Police Commissioner Mr Jamie Chalker APM.
More than 1,000 members of the NT Police Association took part in the poll — about 65 percent of union members — which found that 79.7 percent of members surveyed said they did not trust the commissioner.
A whopping 92.6 percent of respondents said they didn’t think there were enough police in the NT to do what was asked of them, while 79.4 percent described current NT police morale as low or rated very low.
The results of the poll led to union president Paul McCue declaring that the police were “in a complete crisis”.
In June, NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles announced a trial of private security guards – known as the Public Order Response Unit – on the streets of Darwin and Palmerston to help with “anti-social behavior” after a group of residents called on the government to mess around address behavior.
Ms Fyles also announced money for companies to increase their security and that the government would pay a larger percentage of the cost.
The cost of private security patrols – which the government said would be a short-term fix while tackling crime drivers – has been estimated at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars to taxpayers.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11600055/Darwin-gallery-owner-Paul-Arnold-builds-panic-room-shop-amid-city-chaos-crime-surge.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Darwin gallery owner Paul Arnold builds a panic room in his shop amid city chaos and crime