Editorial comment – Security and safety on our streets

Police officers patrol Victoria Pde in Suva. Picture: FT FILE/JONACANI LALAKOBAU

IT was one of those cool Friday nights in the city of Suva this week.

The streets were busy.

Around 11.30pm a group of men staggered along one of the back streets, away from the nightspot lane, swearing at the top of their voices.

They then stood around a dark spot, passing comments as a group walks by.

Nearby, two women appeared to be in a heated debate and were on the verge of blows.

In the distance, more swearing!

In the face of that, it’s good to know that the Fiji police are out in force in hotspots in the Capital City.

It is quite reassuring.

For some time there, part of the scourge of the city, gangs of pickpockets appeared to rule the streets.

They appeared to work in groups, targeting people who would eventually be left frustrated and angry, losing cash, their wallets, and mobile phones.

Many victims never knew when their pockets were picked.

It’s a scary thought, but for those who have been victims, it is the harsh reality of life on the streets of the Capital City as the sun sets and the night comes to life.

The attack by a group of thugs who robbed two men along Victoria Pde raised the frightening reality of this part of Suva’s nightlife.

The incident went viral on social media platform Facebook after the incidents were caught on CCTV camera.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu issued a stern warning late last month to criminal elements that the police would be tightening up on security.

“Be law-abiding citizens. If you break the law we will come in,” he said.

Questions are being raised though in the wake of the turn of events.

There is the issue of police visibility, or lack of it, prior to the CCTV footage.

Mr Tudravu hit the nail on the head when he said people should be able to walk freely in public places and not feel threatened.

For victims of thugs and pick pockets, the reality on the ground is a far cry from that line of thought.

It is encouraging to see the police force now quite visible on foot patrol in criminal hotspot areas in Suva.

The shocking CCTV footage certainly wouldn’t have done anything good for the image of our police force though.

The attacks showed men who appeared confident and had no fear at all, attacking people with an almost carefree attitude.

It was difficult to comprehend that this actually happened in Fiji.

It is good to note the police force is now taking appropriate action to allay the fears of the public.

It is most certainly a duty the people of Fiji expect of them.

Mr Tudravu admitted the incident was a wake-up call for police.

“This is our country. We shouldn’t be doing things illegally in our country that portrays different images out there to the members of the general public and also to the people who are visiting us,” he said.

“What we are trying to do is to push in a lot of manpower to go back to have the visibility on the ground and uniformed police officers seen on the ground.”

That must happen.

Ruthless thugs who disregard the right of citizens to walk the streets of our Capital City without fear have no place in Suva or anywhere else around the country.

They are creating fear in people.

They are creating a very bad impression of our city.

This is bad for business, for tourists, visitors here, potential investors and for the people of Suva.

In the long run, the people of Suva lose out quite heavily in a lot of things.

We must show them the streets of our city belong to the people.

As we have said before, we have a challenge to get to the root cause of this irresponsible thug behaviour, understand that, and address issues that may help to put a stop to it.

That means stakeholders have a duty to find a solution that is good for us all.

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