12 Dec 2005

Police in Nauru say alcohol is fuelling lawlessness

7:41 am on 12 December 2005

The leader of an Australian Federal Police team in Nauru says alcohol abuse is a major factor behind lawlessness on the island.

The officers, headed by Commissioner Allan Ross, were posted to Nauru a year ago after the Government asked for help.

Mr Ross says civil disturbance, fostered by home made alcohol, is the biggest problem they have to confront.

But he says they are working with the community to overcome the problems.

"Clearly one of the focuses for police is to shift away from being solely reactive and thinking that you should just lock people up for being drunk or driving under the influence, and work with the communities and find out what are the underlying reasons of that, so that we can work in a partnership with the community and other agencies because that is another thing that has been sadly lacking over the years here."

A rise in the production of illicit alcohol followed last year's dramatic increase in the excise on beer.

That tax increase has since been cut.