PNG Commissioner Creates Special Tourism Police Force

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Division of Community Police Directorate to focus on visitors

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 11, 2016) – The tourism industry will have its own police in a major restructure announced by the Police Commissioner Gari Baki.

The Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary previously did not have police officers tasked to ensure the safety of tourists visiting but that will now change with a major restructure of the police force.

Mr Baki said yesterday that tourism policing will now be part of the community policing directorate.

"The community policing directorate has been reorganised to take on tourism policing as one of its core functions," he said.

Madang Resort Hotel owner and former politician, Sir Peter Barter, welcomed the announcement and said he and others suggested it 10 years ago. However, the challenge for the Government is how the tourist police will be utilised and who would pay for their salaries.

"I suspect that the cost of securing tourist police will come at a cost either direct or indirect.

"Maybe tourist guides could become volunteer policemen or women as I think in the end it will come back to the operator to provide what security fits the particular application and maybe such a service could be better provided by a private security company," he said when contacted by Post-Courier.

Another challenge for tourists in relation to security in PNG is the display of weapons in public, which Sir Peter said this often made tourists uncomfortable.

"One of the problems is and will continue to be that weapons being carried by police and security companies scare the daylights out of a normal tourist – at the Madang Resort we do stop police from carrying weapons."

The suggestion by the former Madang Regional MP for tourist guides to become volunteer policemen or women would interest Mr Baki, as he indicated yesterday that he would welcome public and private organisations keen on setting up reserve police units.

The reserve units will help as the constabulary currently does not have the capacity to maintain a full presence in most major centres.

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