ROBBERY, THEFT UP DESPITE AUSSIES IN PORT MORESBY

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By Clifford Faiparik

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Apr. 7) - Despite the deployment of Australian police in Port Moresby, crimes like armed robbery and car theft are increasing in the Papua New Guinea capitol.

Police records show that armed robbery, car theft and assault cases have increased around the Gordons area despite the deployment of the Australian Assisting Police since January 2005.

This area, which covers Erima, 9 mile, and Gordons industrial and residential areas, was the first area in the country to be jointly patrolled by the Australia Assisting Police (AAP) personnel and their PNG counterparts.

On the other hand, records of crimes like murder and rape showed a drop in the same period.

According to statistics provided by police yesterday, 24 stealing incidences, 11 armed robberies, 15 break-ins, three car thefts, 80 assaults, 22 threatening and 10 grievous bodily harm cases were reported in January.

In March, the reporting of these crimes increased, with 63 stealing, 12 armed robberies, 17 break-ins, five car thefts, 164 assaults, 38 threatening and 15 grievous bodily harm cases reported.

However, murder cases dropped from 27 in January to two in March while rape cases dropped from seven in January to three in March.

According to police sources, armed robbery, car theft and assault cases have increased because people feel they’ll be treated nicely when arrested by an AAP personnel.

"Before, they feared us because we were hard on them. Now they are not afraid and are welcoming the presence of AAP," a PNG police source said.

While acknowledging the crime statistics, National Capital District/Central Police Commander Assistant Commissioner Tony Wagambie rejected any suggestions linking the crime observations to the deployment of the AAP.

Wagambie said the sector patrol being introduced would cut down the current crime rate in the city.

"That is one reason for disbanding the renowned elite police Task Force that has been operating over the last 20 years. They will be needed to beef up the manpower needed for this new operation.

"Some mobile units attached to the Southern Command Special Service Divisions will be disbanded. We will put other personnel like the clerks and drivers also on the streets. Together with the AAP personnel, they will all be on patrol on the streets on a 24-hour basis. There will be more manpower and logistics to enforce the new operation," he said.

Wagambie said that the sector patrol is not a new concept.

"It has been enforced in the past but it was shelved due to lack of resources. We have revived it again due to the inclusion of the AAP," he said.

April 8, 2005

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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