Assault cases lead crime spike

Assault cases dominated total arrests made during the last two months, the Commissioner of Police and Prisons, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, has confirmed.

Out of the 857 arrests, about 90 per cent of these cases were in Upolu. The statistics also show an increase in crime, compared to statistics from last year, despite the country being on lockdown.

For the state of emergency (S.O.E.) breaches, the Police has issued a total of 99 tickets, which has earned the Government some $21,200 in fines.

Only one fine was issued in Savai'i.

Meanwhile, warnings issued both verbal and written have been “plenty,” said Fuiavailiili.

“We’re trying to apply the spirit of the law. We give chances, we warn, we advise and we counsel. Our last resort is issuing that ticket or making that arrest,” he said.

“The total of 335 warnings we gave in 61 days, in Upolu, we wrote 275 warnings and in Savaii, 60.”

Apart from general assault dominating arrests, the arrest list expands to insulting words, causing injury, intentional damage, burglary and theft, threatening words, throwing stones, and assault with a deadly weapon.

“The number one crime the people are going to jail for is assault,” Fuiavailiili said.

“Sixty-four per cent of those crimes are crimes against a person, and 36 per cent are a crime against or damaging property.”

Additionally, 33 per cent of arrests made by Police were domestic violence incidents, Fuiavailiili added.

“Comparing this year to the last, the statistics have gone up for domestic violence and also in total reported crimes for Samoa.”

Though while assault and domestic violence continue to rise, Fuiavailiili noted that traffic-related incidents have dropped dramatically.

“The only thing that actually went down contrary to what we see in the papers, looking at statistics is traffic-related incidents,” he revealed.

“We see a lot of that in the paper and the news about cars crashing and all that which is very concerning, but if you look at statistics, traffic [related incidents] is the only thing that is going down right now.”

He said this may be related to the reduced number of vehicles on the roads since the lockdown began.

The Police Commissioner also asked the public to voluntarily comply with the S.O.E. orders saying the Police force is heavily employed to ensure that S.O.E. orders are adhered to.

“Please work with us, these men and women are coming out to you because they are being called out to enforce provisions of this order, doing the best they can. So just work with them,” Fuiavailiili said.

“We’re adapting too to the changes, this is all new to us as well.”

The second extension of the S.O.E. is expected to last for another two weeks until June 2, 2020.

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