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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (February 23, 1999 - Radio Australia)---The Papua New Guinea Police Force will be reduced by 1,000 officers, about 20-percent of the force.

Radio Australia correspondent Richard Dinnen reports that the staff cut comes as PNG's crime problem continues to grow:

"The PNG Government cut funding for an already poorly supported police force by 15 percent. Now the force has announced how it will implement staff cuts.

"One thousand of the 5,100 police will be laid off or retired. The staff cut will cost about six million dollars in efforts to achieve a budget cut of about 11 million.

"Critics believe the move is one of false economy, saying cutting the police force, while crime continues to rise, is a serious mistake.

"With a 20 percent staff cut, critics ask, how will the Papua New Guinea Police Force deal decisively with a problem many people believe is already out of control?

"Richard Dinnen, Port Moresby."

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