Six deaths, over 100 festive season arrests

A total of six deaths were recorded and more than 100 people were arrested during the Police’s festive season operations, authorities have confirmed.

The Police and Prisons Commissioner, Fuiavaili'ili Egon Keil, confirmed the numbers in response to questions about the extent of festive season crimes from the Samoa Observer on Tuesday. 

The Police’s Festive Season Operation ran from 23 December last  year through to 3 January 2021. 

According to Fuiavaili'ili, Police made a total 128 arrests over that period. 

The Commissioner said there are two murder cases under investigation, including one double murder in Afega and another case in Lona, Fagaloa.

Furthermore, the Police and Prisons Commissioner added that there are two inquiries into drownings involving a 20-year-old male at Togitogiga Falls and a one-year-old at Afega.

Separate inquiries are being made into the death of a male in his early 20s who was purportedly speared by a swordfish while out diving for fish in Asaga, Savaii.

The Police Commissioner’s Office said that some of the incidents involved alcohol consumption.

During the same period, Police also made 31 driving under the influence (D.U.I.) arrests.

He explained that the recent festive season calls for Police service increased overall by six per cent compared to the last festive period.

Only one murder case recorded for last year’s festive period compared to three this year.

When looking at 2020 more broadly, Police also noted there had been a massive spike in requests for Police help and certain categories of crime. 

The Police responded to 26,458 calls last year compared to 14,615 in 2019: a 45 per cent increase.

Alcohol was a factor in more than one-third of calls made to Police. 

Fuiavaili'ili confirmed that for the calendar year 2020, Police made 3,704 arrests.

Most arrests fell under the category of ‘assault’ charges which accounted for 593 crimes. In second place was the D.U.I. category, which was responsible for 523 arrests.

Some categories of crime skyrocketed last year.

Domestic cases increased by 39 per cent; traffic cases were up by 10 per cent.

But murders in 2020 fell by half, with only seven recorded by Police compared to 14 in 2019.

The category of ‘general crimes’ also fell by 8 per cent. 

But on the roads, there was a major increase in the number of infringements issued to motorists. 

A total of 9,983 traffic tickets were issued to motorists during 2020: most of the citations were for unlicensed drivers, a total of 1,347.

The figures for last year compare to 3,652 traffic tickets issued the year prior.

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