12 Nov 2003

Fiji Police Commissioner says there is no need for police in Fiji to carry guns

4:37 pm on 12 November 2003

Fiji's Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes has cautioned against new calls for police to carry guns in order to combat armed criminals, saying Fiji is a relatively safe place.

The calls follow a robbery yesterday in which four armed people robbed the Ba branch of the Bank of Baroda of more than fifty thousand dollars, firing at least five rounds in the process.

Ba mayor, Praveen Bala, backed by leading local businessmen, says there is no way police can confront such robbers unless they are armed.

But Mr Hughes says he's never seen a society that's benefitted from the introduction of more guns, and he's wary of a knee-jerk reaction to an incident he describes as "out of character".

"No, the levels of violent crime in Fiji are not on the increase, in fact, Fiji is a very safe place,...we have seen in the past month or two that crimes rates have plummetted - robbery and violence is now by 30 percent so it remains a very safe place, in fact you are one and a half times more likely to be the victim of a robbery in Australia or New Zealand than you are in Fiji"

Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes says yesterday's robbery highlights the question of security arrangements for banks.