10 Oct 2016

Role of Tongan police commissioner examined

11:27 am on 10 October 2016

Tonga's police commissioner has come under close scrutiny from the government.

Tonga police commissioner, Stephen Caldwell

Tonga police commissioner, Stephen Caldwell Photo: SUPPLED

Last week the Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva warned the country was a playground for criminals and proposed a committee be formed to investigate Police.

The Police Minister Pohiva Tu'ionetoa said people are worried about a number of recent escapes from police custody, including an American man suspected of murder.

Mr Tu'ionetoa said this brings the commissioner, New Zealand Police Superindent Steve Caldwell, into the spotlight.

"According to the law, the Police Act that was passed in 2010, the Commissioner is responsible for the operational methods of the police and the Minister is not allowed to question. He is independent to do that."

Pohiva Tu'ionetoa said the Cabinet will be discussing if it is satisfied with Mr Caldwell's performance and looking for a solution.

However the minister points out the police commissioner is appointed by the Privy Council, an unelected body of royal appointees, and not the government.

Mr Caldwell is currently on leave.

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