5 Nov 2002

Fiji government warned it could lose control of police force

6:32 pm on 5 November 2002

Fiji's opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, is warning the government that it could lose control of the police force unless it overhauls it from top to bottom.

The call for radical action follows his statements that the police commissioner, Colonel Isikia Savua, is to blame for the almost total collapse of the force.

Mr Beddoes was also speaking out in the wake of fresh allegations of brutality by officers at Valelevu station who have previously been in the spotlight for assaulting people.

"My concern is that obviously there is a small group of obviously rotten cops in the system that need to be extracted, because by and large, the police officers conduct themselves to the best of their ability with the resources they have, and I think it's important that the minister and the government nip this in the bud now, because otherwise, it's going to lose control of the police force."

Mr Beddoes says he will be putting pressure on the government to take action during the next session of parliament.

Police say they will conduct an internal investigation of the allegations.

The police commissioner, Colonel Savua, is Fiji's next ambassador to the United Nations and takes up the new post in January.