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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Oct. 5) – In the Solomon Islands, 20 men have now been arrested in relation to the recent spate of violent crime in the Burns Creek, Lungga, Ranadi and Betikama areas over the past two weeks.

Eleven young men have already appeared in Honiara Magistrates Court on Tuesday charged over a spate of aggravated burglaries at Seventh Day Adventist compound and SWIM.

Police say another nine were arrested yesterday night and are currently being questioned about a number of burglaries, rapes and serious assaults. Police say they are confident that they have a ringleader of the gang in custody following an arrest in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The eleven men that appeared in court on Tuesday have been charged with burglary with one being charged with burglary and rape. Another youth is being interviewed about the rape of a woman at the SDA Head Office over the weekend. Three of the eleven are juveniles and have been remanded in custody to appear in court on 6 October 2006. The remaining eight have been remanded in custody to appear in court on 16 October.

Police say they are expecting to lay further charges on those already arrested. More arrests are expected as the investigation progresses.

Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police Shane Castles met with representatives from the communities of Burns Creek, Betikama, Lungga and Ranadi areas on Monday in relation to the current spate of violent crime in the Burns Creek,

The Commissioner delivered a strong message during the meeting where options to curb the current spate of violent crime were discussed. One option put forward by the Commissioner was for the offenders to come forward and give a truthful account of their actions and to report any information they may have regarding other people who may be implicated in the recent violent attacks. He also appealed to community leaders to identify troublemakers in the community and provide information to police.

Mr.Castles also warned parents and the community generally to exercise control over their children. He called on the community to help stop the crime wave and prevent any more innocent people being hurt.

"Apart from the physical and psychological damage being done to the good and honest people of Honiara, it is causing financial damage to businesses in the area. This crime wave is to cease. Extra police have been rostered to pay particular attention to groups of youths roaming the streets without just cause at night. If we do not get the cooperation of the communities in the area to take more control and responsibility for their children, police may be forced to consider making application to the Governor General to impose a Curfew," he said.

Castles said a curfew affecting the responsible communities will be the worst option but it may be the only way to stop the violence. "The police have a duty to protect the broader community from theft and violent attack."

Police say that a curfew would impact and restrict the movement of many innocent people in that it would apply to everyone in the nominated areas all because of the behavior of a few.

Community representative Clement Jimmy Natei said he was happy that the Commissioner took time to speak to the community about the problem.

"The meeting was very important to the community. It gives people a better overall picture of the crimes taking place and the impact they have. It is also important that of community participation in reducing the magnitude and the rate of crime incidents in the community especially in the Burns Creek, Lungga and Henderson areas," Mr. Natei said.

October 6, 2006

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