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Fiji Time: 11:29 PM on Thursday 31 July

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Be your own protector

Tevita Vuibau
Thursday, February 14, 2013

WITH the Fiji Police Force hosting their Community Policing Symposium next week, the force will take a look back at the development of community policing and the role it has come to play in modern Fijian society.

The symposium, a follow-up to last year's event will be attended by relevant stakeholders with the common aim of ensuring a safe and secure Fiji.

Police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri said while community policing was new to some, it had similar roots in the iTaukei community, evident in the functions of batileka and batibalavu in village settings.

"Enforcers were not appointed by the chief or even the community, but a traditional appointment which was inherited through a number of families within a community," he said.

"They were known as bati and furthermore designated as batileka, those who were the closest guard to the chief and the batibalavu were responsible to police the village and its surrounding," he said.

"They acted as the first line of defence when it came to protecting the community from invaders or outside tribes in times of rivalry. Apart from these, there were other policing practices which upheld village bylaws and regulations and when breached, these meant penalties were given accordingly," he added.

With the arrival of the colonials, these traditional roles were reflected in the police force.

They would pick on the innovation of Sir Robert Peel's principles of policing and the force and community policing would enter the modern era.

This move would spawn a number of new and community-based crime prevention groups like neighbourhood watch scheme, vanua rai ki liu (community policing the Fijian way), viri kawakawa (bridge building) and the VALOMA Initiative (vanua, lotu and matanitu).


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