New minister looks to problematic attitude in PNG police force

6:07 pm on 13 June 2019

Papua New Guinea's new police minister says he wants to address the attitude problem which he links to the force's disciplinary problems.

Bryan Kramer.

Bryan Kramer. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

Bryan Kramer, who was appointed by prime minister James Marape last week, is aiming to improve the constabulary's working relationship with a public which he said often fears police more than criminals.

He said it hadn't helped that the force has been politicised over the years.

"When you put on a police uniform, there's a degree of power and respect that comes with that uniform. And it becomes very easy to abuse it. And that has been the problem with the police force," Mr Kramer said.

"There's been ill-discipline and very little accountability in members of the force. So, I'm hoping to change that attitude."

Mr Kramer is also aiming to review the way the country's troubled constabulary is funded.

He acknowledged the long-running problem of lack of resourcing for the force and inconsistent pay for individual officers.

Mr Kramer said that with the country facing significant cash flow problems, government has struggled every fortnight to pay public servants

"My focus will be establishing what is the true cost of policing in Papua New Guinea and ensuring that the police get sufficient funding to allow them to address the law and order issue that is currently escalating in the country.

"We're looking at how we can address that, the funding available. But also, there's a lot of wastages, there's a lot of funding that is being misused through the police force."

Another priority for the minister is addressing the trend of police officers or reservists being engaged in paid work by logging companies or private businesses.

"The problem is logging companies provide great incentives," he said, adding that a number of police officers lack adequate housing and regular pay.

Mr Kramer said he would work "to ensure that members of the force that are paid by public money are not paid by private organisations or logging companies".

Meanwhile, the minister this week had a de-briefing with Police Commissioner Gary Baki whose appointment was in May renewed for three months.

The pair had a public war of words last year after Mr Kramer criticised the commissioner for closing a fraud case file against former prime minister Peter O'Neill.

Since his appointment, Mr Kramer has brushed off suggestions that he would look to fire Mr Baki. According to the minister, it's up to cabinet to decide on a long term commissioner appointment.

Papua New Guinea police.

Papua New Guinea police. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

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