Tears as 'Declan's law' debated while NT crime rises

Annette Lin/AAP PHOTOS

Five months after her son was stabbed to death in a Darwin bottleshop, Samara Laverty says sleep is her only reprieve.

"I miss him so much that it is beyond a physical ache, it is an all-encompassing grief," she said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The only relief I get is sleep, but I don't sleep well anymore - it hurts too much."

The death of 20-year-old Declan Laverty in March sent shockwaves through the Northern Territory, sparking protests and petitions calling on the government to get "tough on crime".

Mr Laverty was on shift at a BWS near Darwin airport when he was allegedly stabbed to death by Keith Kerinauia, 19, who was out on bail for aggravated assault at the time. Kerinauia has been charged with murder and is set to stand trial in the Supreme Court.

One petition, spearheaded by Ms Laverty, garnered more than 26,000 signatures and called for the government to enact "Declan's Law", calling for tougher bail laws for first-time and repeat offenders and stricter weapon restrictions.

The government responded to the call for action and in March passed bail law reforms meaning people charged with serious offences involving certain weapons would be subject to a presumption against bail.

In July the government also passed new "wanding" laws, allowing police to search people for weapons in 16 "high-risk" areas in the NT.

But Ms Laverty, the NT opposition and thousands of signatories say the new laws don't go far enough in addressing the rising crime rates across the territory.

"Today in parliament, Labor used this opportunity to pretend like it had met all of the objectives for Samara Laverty's petition," Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro told reporters on Tuesday.

"But their words fall hollow on the ears of territorians who know that crime is out of control."

In the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, the Country Liberal Party opposition called for the bail laws to include crimes involving all offensive weapons, including "weapons of opportunity" such as broken bottles and rocks.

Chief Minister Natasha Fyles indicated she would stand firm on her government's position to retain the laws passed earlier in the year.

"We see Samara's love for her son in this petition and we have heard the calls for change and in recent months we have acted and will continue to listen and to act," she said in parliament on Tuesday.

Though calls for tougher consequences on crime are understandable, the research shows diversion programs are more effective, Mindy Sotiri from the Justice Reform Initiative said.

"There is no evidence to suggest that threatening harsher penalties has any impact when it comes to reducing crime," Dr Sotiri told AAP.

"In fact, reducing access to bail and funnelling more people into prisons makes reoffending more likely. "

For Ms Laverty, who sat crying in the public parliamentary gallery on Tuesday, the battle continues.

"I have become the face of changing crime laws. Politics? I hate it," she said.

"But I promised (Declan) with all my heart and soul that I would fight with everything I had for him."

The debate continues.