'Target families, not crim kids': Labor MP

A federal Labor politician for the Northern Territory wants families to be held accountable for youth crime in Alice Springs.

Marion Scrymgour says crime rates in the central Australian city have been rising for a number of years and action is needed.

The Member for Lingiari made the comments in response to a proposed NT government plan to take unsupervised children into custody if they're found on the street at night.

"What if a child is just hanging around the streets, they've not been involved in a crime - what's the legal basis for the removal of that child?" Ms Scrymgour said in a statement on Friday.

"We can target young people but if we don't make families accountable then we're putting a Band-Aid on the situation and the Band-Aid will fall off."

Ms Scrymgour called for more support services to help young people and said she would consult Alice Springs' traditional owners about the issue.

"We need to look at how we intervene in the lives of these young people to help them become productive members of society and not end up in a life of detention," she said.

"This response needs to be led by traditional owners, who need to show leadership on this."

Earlier this week, the NT government said work was underway to allow police and other agencies to take children undertaking "risky" behaviour at night into custody.

The proposed plan comes amid ongoing frustration with the Fyles Labor government over a perceived lack of action to combat property crime in Alice Springs.

"We want to make sure we intervene and have a circuit breaker before that behaviour turns criminal or potentially tragic for them," Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said on Thursday.

"It is essentially providing a safe place and then in daylight ascertaining what's happening in that individual child's life."

She said it would allow authorities to be certain if further support for the child was required.

"This is for the best interests of that child and that family," she said.

Asked if parents should be punished for their children's anti-social behaviour, Ms Fyles said on Thursday: "It's a fairly simplistic response and these are complex issues and complex family situations."

Meanwhile, Acting-NT Children's Commissioner, Nicole Hucks, has cautioned the NT government "against a hasty program development that could further negatively affect this cohort of extremely vulnerable children".

"While I haven't been briefed from the minister on the government's short term plans in Alice Springs, I hold concerns regarding the already disproportionate representation of Aboriginal children in both the child protection and youth justice systems," she said on Friday.

Ms Hucks called for information about how the policy would be implemented and the legal framework surrounding it.

Opposition spokesman for youth justice Joshua Burgoyne said the territory's Labor government had "abandoned" residents in communities like Alice Springs and the plan was "too little, too late".

"With one in three children in the NT living below the poverty line it is clear that there are key complex underlying socio-economic issues facing these families," he said.

"We need to invest in the existing wrap-around local supports on the ground to assist families to keep their kids off the street at night."