NT film festival cancelled as cars damaged

Greg Roberts

A film festival has been cancelled in Alice Springs after almost 40 cars were damaged in a rampage by youths outside, one of a series of incidents that's prompted calls for the Northern Territory government to crack down on youth offenders.

Windows were smashed and words spray-painted on 38 cars parked at the Araluen Arts Centre, where the touring Banff Mountain Film Festival was being held on Thursday night.

Two boys, aged 13 and 14, were arrested by an off-duty police officer who saw them stall a car.

Five youths, one male and four females aged 11 to 15, were also arrested after a short chase on foot.

Police say they saw one of them smash a car window about 7pm.

The brazen actions follow the arrests earlier this week of six youths in Alice Springs as part of Operation Dawson, which has been set up to target property offences, stolen cars and antisocial behaviour by youth offenders.

Nearly 20 cars were also broken into in broad daylight at Palmerston last weekend at a 'park and ride' site used by workers at Darwin's Inpex project.

The crimes are prompting calls for police and the NT government to get tougher on crime.

The Labor government was focused on "long-term generational change", such as committing $229 million to implementing the Royal Commission into youth detention recommendations, but current measures were not working now, opposition deputy leader Lia Finocchiaro said.

She called for greater use of electronic monitoring bracelets for youths, more sentencing options for magistrates along with "skills training and constructive activities" to change their lives.

NT police crime statistics for Alice Springs show a drop in crimes against property such as cars in the last year by 10 per cent but there has been a sharp jump of 25 per cent in crimes against the person such as assaults, 66 per cent of which were alcohol-related.

For all of the NT, crimes against persons were up 10 per cent and down four per cent for property.