National News

More drug testing of NT parolees: review


A review of the Northern Territory's parole system, initiated after a parolee allegedly shot dead four people in Darwin earlier this month, has called for more drug and alcohol testing of high-risk offenders.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner requested an urgent audit of parolees and people subject to electronic monitoring after it emerged alleged killer Ben Hoffmann, 45, had been released on parole this year.

The review audited 256 files released by Commissioner for Corrections Scott McNairn, whose department recommended Hoffmann's release.

The audit found no serious issues in the management of people on parole or electronic monitoring, Mr McNairn said.

But the report makes eight recommendations around improving drug testing, staff recruiting and administrative processes.

After the shootings, Mr McNairn said he was "saddened that it has happened" and confirmed his department had recommended the alleged killer's release.

Hoffmann has been charged with four counts of murder for the alleged shooting of Darwin cabbie Hassan Baydoun, 57-year-old Michael Sisois, New Zealand security guard Rob Courtney and 76-year-old Nigel Hellings during a 28-minute rampage on June 4.

It was the Northern Territory's worst ever mass shooting.

The review recommends ensuring that drug and alcohol testing and electronic monitoring is focused on higher-risk offenders.

Other recommendations include ensuring administrative tasks are completed and streamlining recruitment processes for probation and parole officers.

It also recommends increasing the corrections department's drug and alcohol testing and auditing capacities.

"It also found the majority of parolees and offenders on electronic monitoring, who are subject to alcohol and/or drug restrictions, have been subject to random testing in line with policy requirements," he said.

"In cases where the policy requirements have not been met, this reflected a short period where testing has not been sufficiently frequent rather than the absence of testing."

Attorney-General Natasha Fyles said the audit found no serious concerns, but did highlight areas for improvement.

"I have directed the Department of Attorney-General and Justice to immediately increase the frequency of drug and alcohol testing for offenders, particularly high risk," she said.

© AAP 2019