New unit to tackle crime and violence


The meeting of tourism operators on La Digue

The organisation, called the “Scorpios“, will train a special group in the police in various crime investigating techniques.

This was revealed by the Minister for Home Affairs, Environment, Transport and Energy Joel Morgan, who is also responsible for the police, during a meeting of tourism operators on La Digue.

The main focus of the meeting held on Tuesday at Chateau St Cloud was the escalating crime and violence on the island.

Besides hoteliers and other tourism stakeholders, the gathering was also attended by Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) chief executive Alain St Ange, his deputy Elsia Grandcourt, the chairman of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA) Louis D’Offay and Police Commissioner Ernest Quatre.

Official figures reveal that there were ten thefts from tourism establishments in 2010 and nine up to July this year. 
It is also believed that there are some 10 beach thefts from tourists every week, mostly at Anse Source D’Argent, the island’s main seaside resort.

Mr D’Offay said this was very sad as the issue had been raised at previous meetings.

Minister Morgan said it appears much of the crime was drug-driven, adding there are indications that some of the break-ins are perpetrated by outsiders, meaning people who come over from Mahé or Praslin, and target specific establishments.
The minister said that the setting up soon of the Serious Crime Unit “should go a long way towards helping us counter the rising crime rate”. 
The minister also said Seychelles’ escalating crime rate is very disturbing - being ranked 16th in the world – per head of population. The same concern was voiced by Mr D’Offay at a tourism meeting on Mahé last month.

Commissioner Quatre said there are presently 13 police officers on La Digue and he hopes to bring that number to 20. But a major problem was inadequate housing. He said the police barracks, rather old and run down, was being refurbished to provide more accommodation capacity.

Mr Quatre expressed his appreciation to hotelier Gerald Lablache for providing free accommodation to some officers.
One operator said that in his view there are not more than four or five persons preying on tourists or being responsible for burglaries.  He said it should not be difficult for the police to collect the necessary intelligence and apprehend them.

Mr St Ange joined the operators in expressing the hope that La Digue’s reputation as a “safe haven” for visitors is not lost through the greed of a handful of individuals.

The setting up of a CID unit is also being assessed. With drug becoming a major problem on La Digue too, it was suggested that consideration also be given to a more frequent presence of the NDEA (National Drugs Enforcement Agency) on La Digue.

The issue of tourists being hassled by bicycle hirers, or even guesthouse owners on La Digue jetty, was also raised at the meeting.

Besides attending the tourism meeting on Tuesday, Minister Morgan also carried out various site visits to inspect projects related to his ministry.

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