Plan For Port Moresby Security Cams Resisted By Police

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Private security firm could take on policing duties

By Liam Fox

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Jan. 5, 2013) –A plan to install security cameras around Port Moresby and outsource minor policing to private security is meeting resistance from PNG police.

Papua New Guinea's capital has long had a reputation as one of the world's most dangerous cities, and local authorities are hoping to curb rampant crime by installing security cameras around Port Moresby.

One of the main architects of the plan, Governor of the National Capital District Powes Parkop, says action is needed to snap the mindset of impunity.

"To move away from a mindset where in the morning they think I can get away with snatching a bag, I can get away with stealing a car," he said.

"Anybody can do anything they want any time, any place, that's got to end."

The cameras relay pictures to a control room in the local headquarters of the multinational security giant G4S.

The company says it will notify police if it sees any disturbances or illegal activities and the images can be used as evidence in court.

But the Governor's plan goes a step further, he wants G4S security guards to respond to minor incidents because police are not up to the job.

"We've got less than 1,000 policemen and women in a city that is growing, that is expanding, the population is increasing," he said.

"We have about 700,000 now - we could in the next five years surpass 1 million."

The General Manager of Communications and Technology at G4S, Rob Andrews, says his guards would only respond to certain situations.

"If it's general moving people on, chewing buai (betel-nut) in the wrong places, causing a commotion prior to some sort of incident, if we can predict that and prevent it then we will dispatch our guards to get to the site as soon as possible," he said.

"The idea is prevention."

Mr Andrews admits there's potential for his guards to overreact and assume the powers of police officers, particularly in tense situations.

"That can happen and unfortunately it does in some circumstances and there's procedures in place that we have to use in terms of discipline and so on," he said.

"But with the right trained personnel and with the video evidence those sort of incidents will be minimised."

As part of the Governor's crime crackdown he wants to install cameras in crime hotspots like markets and bus stops.

While stallholders and shoppers at Gordon's Market, which has become a magnet for petty criminals, pickpockets and bag-snatchers, approve of the move, the local police do not.

Metropolitan Superintendent Peter Guinness says police were not consulted about either the installation of security cameras or the use of security guards.

"I won't be talking, or I won't be cooperating, or the police will not be cooperating with G4S," he said.

Superintendent Guinness says the cameras breach privacy provisions in the constitution, and recordings would not be admissible in court.

As for the security guards, he says only police officers are authorised to enforce law and order.

"If G4S is seen to takeover the duties and responsibilities of the police, they've committed an offence for creating an extraordinary police force in PNG," he said.

Superintendent Guinness admits his officers don't have the resources or manpower to do their jobs properly.

But he says they would be in a better position if the money being spent on cameras and security guards was given to the police force.

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