8 Aug 2016

Hopes for Tongan community support in booze crackdown

7:30 am on 8 August 2016

Tonga police say issues of alcohol abuse can only be overcome with commitment from the community.

The Central Police Station in Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa.

The Central Police Station in Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa. Photo: RNZI / Gareth Thomas

Two weekends ago police launched Operation Safe Streets after a surge in fatal car crashes and criminal activity blamed on alcohol abuse.

In the first weekend 137 arrests were made - more than double the typical number of arrests on the main island of Tongatapu.

Deputy Commissioner Pelenatita Fe'ao Vaisuai, who is in charge of community policing, said in recent years access to alcohol has become much easier.

She said to rein in the problems this causes they need the help of the business owners involved and the wider community.

"Hopefully the members of the public will take this seriously - about their lives, the lives of their young ones, they are responsible, first, for their safety," she said.

"Alcohol [abuse], being a social issue police alone cannot handle the issue on their own, they will need [the] community, stakeholder approach, where we work together with the community, the licence holders."