POLICE SHORTFALL WORRIES FIJI HOTEL OPERATORS

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 5) – Law and order should be maintained effectively if Fiji is to attract visitors, the Fiji Hotel Association said.

Association president Dixon Seeto said if this wasn't done, the country’s tourist traffic would soon turn to other countries where there is stability.

He was reacting to revelation that police were short of 240 officers this year because of various factors.

Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes said their efforts to effectively fight law and order would be hampered as a result of the shortage.

He warned the force would be further behind in terms of sophisticated crime-fighting techniques if budgetary allocations kept holding them back.

"For any country, the maintenance of law and order is of paramount importance," Mr Seeto said. "The tourism industry is based on safety and security."

He said the association would like to see an increased number of officers in the Tourism Police Unit.

The Fiji Retailers Association, meanwhile, said the reduction would not have a major impact in the short term.

It said the Government went out of its way to assist the force in the procurement of vehicles and an increased budgetary allocation.

Mr Hughes said while the crime tend was reducing, it was becoming more sophisticated that needed fully trained and qualified officers to investigate.

He said the public, courts, visitors and investors have high expectations of them and that it was proper that the Government provided them with the necessary tools to effectively fight crime.

The force loses 70 support officers and 100 to 150 regular officers every year.

January 5, 2005

Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com/

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