GOVERNMENT today supports a motion from Ha’apai 13 constituencies to provide some sort of allowance for community patrolling police.
The Hon. Minister of Police Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa says since police officers are short staffed special attention should be given to the tasks and duties carried out by the community police.
He said this was among the issues raised during his parliamentary visit meeting with his constituency.
Hon. Tu’i’onetoa strongly believed it’s possible to allocate funds in the Government’s next budget to provide work allowance for the community patrolling police.
“This can be in the form of a gift allowance for them for what they performed in the community,” explained Hon. Tu’i’onetoa.
The Minister of Police also mentioned an incident got ugly in his constituency where a community patrolling police was taken to court for allegedly illegally arresting a drunken person in the village.
“The villagers know they have no power to arrest someone, therefore this creates problems when they do so,” explained Hon. Tu’i’onetoa.
Hence, the Hon. Minister of Police says the Government should consider the matter carefully in efforts to help with the issue of under staff faced by the law enforcement.
“Government cannot provide salary for them like we offer the Tonga police, but Government can arrange some form of allowance for them. This can done through amending the existing Police Act,” explained the Hon. Police Minister.
Meanwhile the Justice Minister, Hon. Vuna Fa’otusia says this is an important proposal considering the services they provide in the community.
“Community police provides patrol services and deal with offenders before the law enforcement officers are deployed to the area,” said the Minister of Justice.
Hon. Fa’otusia also reckoned it’s time to consider amending the law to give them power and authority to arrest offenders before the police gets to the scene.
The matter was brought to the Whole House Committee’s attention when Ha’apai 13 MP constituency MP Veivosa Taka highlighted his constituency most urgent needs.
He said community policing provides patrolling services only in the village. Taka also asserted they cannot afford to keep and maintain peace as their job involves patrolling services only.
“If a fight broke out we can’t step in to stop the fighting,” said MP Taka.
The call from Ha’apai 13 electorate is for Government to consider legalizing their status in society to act as peacemakers should a brawl occurs. And if that’s the case, then patrolling police should be paid for the job they do in the community.
“We are not allowed to act as full uniform police officers. We are given a torch only and a vest
to wear. Their only wish for their voices be heard thus seeking rights to arrest offenders,” pleaded MP Taka.