The home of a member of parliament on Tongatapu was raided by police yesterday.
Police and Crime
KEEPING Tonga’s roads safe by reducing the level of injury and trauma caused by drunken drivers, is the aim of a new Drink Drive Law that gives the police the power to breath test all motorists on any road at any time in Tonga, starting next week on Monday December 6, 2010. Police Commander Chris Kelley said on November 30, the new law is part of the Traffic Amendment Act 2010. Police staff were currently being trained in the use of the equipment, including 30 breath-testing units worth $40,000 pa’anga, which were funded under the tripartite Tonga Police Development Program. He said the breath testing is effective, and the equipment had been thoroughly tested in the courts Australia and New Zealand and he believed it is the best available equipment for Tonga. “All people should welcome this change as the roads will be safer and the reason for enforcing this in December is because the period before and after Christmas are very high risk times for crashes involving drunken drivers,” he said. “I want everyone to enjoy the festive season not be worried or concerned for a family member who has been involved in a crash with a drunk driver.” Breath testing will be introduced on outer island roads as well as Tongatapu road. Offence Commander Kelley said if the alcohol level of a motorist exceeded 250 micrograms per litre of breath it is an offence, with a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both. In addition a driver may be disqualified from driving for two years. An infringement fee of $200 would be issued to motorists who were breath tested to have a level between 150 to 250 micrograms per litre of breath. He said that under the new law all drivers must stop when signalled. “It is an offence to refuse to undergo a road side breath test, it is an offence to refuse to accompany a police officer for the purpose of a breath test,” he said. “It does not take a lot of alcohol for a person’s breath to exceed 150 micrograms per litre of breath so my advice is if you are going to drink don’t drive. Make other arrangements to get home safely not only will this save you getting prosecuted it may also save someone’s life,” he said. Inspector Burns a New Zealand Police advisor demonstrated the use of equipment, which is a handheld device where on speaks and breathes into a tube that detects any alcohol intake. Liquor licences The Intoxication Amendment Act 2010 has been gazetted and is now law. Commander Kelley said liquor license holders are given December to renew their liquor licenses before the new law is enforced on January 1, 2011 implementing new tougher measures for sale of alcohol in retail shops, bars, nightclubs and restaurants.
Police in Tonga are currently investigating a candidate for overspending following a complaint lodged by the Electoral Commission in Nuku’alofa.
Police arrested a male supporter of a candidate for the coming parliamentary election in Vava’u on November 12, after it was alleged that election posters in Neiafu carried defamatory information about another candidate.
A 22-year-old male suspected of robbing a Chinese shop in Neiafu, Vava’u, on October 22 was arrested by police in Tongatapu last week, Deputy Commander Taniela Faletau reported.
OVER the last seven days crimes reported to police have doubled in number keeping police detectives busy tracking down offenders and making arrests. Some 102 crimes were reported in the week, including serious offences such as rape, robbery, housebreaking and fraud, an increase from the 55 crimes reported the previous week. Police Commander Chris Kelley in response to high volume of reported crimes has set up a new Criminal Investigation Structure at the Central Police Station and increased staff from 15 to 42 to better address public requirements and response times. In addition a Serious Crimes Unit created at the Police Headquarter is aimed at serious crimes of violence, housebreaking and those requiring forensics. In its weekly crime report on October 26, of the 102 crimes reported fraud cases made up the most with 34 cases, 30 thefts, 13 housebreaks and 11 assaults, with further traffic cases. The Commander believed that Tonga’s criminal offending was not much different to other countries but in Tonga it is a very small portion of the population that commits most of the offending. “About five percent of the population commits 95 percent of the crimes reported and I am pleased to see an increase in reported crimes and people coming forward,” he said. Violent crimes Comdr Kelley said that what he was most concerned with now is the level of violent crimes reported because it is a direct attack on individuals and people. He pointed out that sexual offending offences had consistently been reported to them and it is good that they are being reported immediately. Also last week one historic rape complaint was made regarding a teenage girl but the adult male offender had fled the country. Comdr Kelley stressed to the public the importance of reporting the crime immediately to ensure a successful investigation. Housebreaking He said his second concern is housebreaking which had also dramatically increased. In the past week, 13 housebreaking cases were reported to the police. “As of this week we have successfully located, arrested and charged seven people with 12 of the housebreaking offences and we expect to make more arrests as investigations uncover activities of these thieves,” he said. “These housebreakers are organised criminals and the arrests this week are just a small part of those criminal groups operating in Tongatapu.” The Commander added that members of the public are often distressed to lose laptops and other important equipment that contains information, projects and documents involving a whole year’s work. Detectives arrested two further people for breaking into a container and stealing 80 cartons of mutton flaps and the property was recovered. Robbery Robbery is also top on the list with 30 robberies reported last week to the police. Comdr Kelley said that on October 23 three masked intruders stole up to $1,000 pa’anga and some goods from a Chinese shop at Fatafehi road in Nuku’alofa. Police had arrested one male and were actively looking for two other suspects. On the previous night on October 22 in Neiafu, Vava’u, an armed robbery took place where an intruder armed with a weapon entered a Chinese shop and robbed occupants of several thousands of pa’anga, a week of their takings. He said no arrest had been made so far but they wre actively pursuing investigation to get the perpetrator. Fraud In addition fraud continued to be reported consistently to the police and showd a substantial increase in the past nine months. From January to September of this year police received 72 cases of fraud involving total amounts in excess of $5.5 million pa’anga. The Commander expected these figures were trending towards a 20 percent rise in reported fraud for the whole year. In 2009 a total of 98 fraud cases were reported to the police. He said fraud was one of the serious crimes and continued to be reported consistently including embezzlement. The latest report last week was a bank official embezzling around $100,000. “People see opportunities to carry out fraud and it may be related to a range of factors whether it is the economy, people’s personal circumstances or hardships. But there are mechanisms in this country particularly within families and churches for people to be fed and clothed. “To me to it is downright dishonesty, as offenders tend to spend the money on themselves. “I don’t subscribe to committing crimes to feed their families because most of the criminals that we see coming through are selfish and self-indulgent using the money for themselves.” Busy He added it has been a very busy week at the Central Police Station in Nuku’alofa and police staff had responded extremely well to the higher volume of crime reported by actively investigating the cases and making the arrests. “I know some people get frustrated with delays in cases they report but you can see the volume of work reported over the last seven days is just a small portion of what our overall workload is,” he said. “Our operational and investigative response is developing and I am proud of our achievements with the limited resources we have.”
TONGA Police last week uncovered 250 cannabis plants cultivated on an allotment in Tongatapu, making it the biggest to have been uncovered and seized in Tonga to date. Police Commander Chris Kelley said no arrests had been made but investigation was ongoing. He said judging from the amount of cannabis plants found, this was intended for commercial purposes. The cannabis plants were young and had not matured. “We have had small seizures of cannabis being planted in Tongatapu, this is so far the largest,” he said. The Commander did not divulge any further information but said that investigation was ongoing to apprehend those involved and to see whether this was a part of a larger cultivation operation or not. The illegal plants were kept in custody at the Central Police station and were destroyed today, October 26.
A 44-year-old man died after falling off from the first floor of the Vaiola Hospital building on Thursday, September 30, after being admitted in the early morning of the same day.
Fraud offences in excess of $5.5 million pa’anga were reported to the Tonga Police in the first six months of the year, Police Commander, Chris Kelley.
A 40-year-old Fijian man was found dead at in the area of the Takaunove Cemetery at Fasi on Saturday night, August 11.