AN acute police manpower shortage coupled with the breakdown in its command and control in Wewak, East Sepik, has been blamed for the recent increase in lawlessness in the province.
This was claimed by a senior reserve policeman in Wewak who spoke to The National this week.
Reservist Henry Takom said there had been an increase in law and order problems in Wewak and also along the West Coast highway which police could not handle because they were either outnumbered or were unable to execute their duties because there was no command and control from their superiors.
He said the problem of command and control should immediately be resolved with the replacement of a senior commissioned officer to the position of provincial police commander which is currently being held by a lower ranking officer.
Takombe said Wewak is expanding with more investors and people from outside coming to live here and that a senior officer would do well in establishing command and control in the force.
He said the problem of shortage in manpower should be addressed by the provincial government by way of budgeting for the auxiliary police in order to increase police strength.
Takombe said shortage in police manpower had been a problem since last year when hundreds of auxiliaries and reservists were made redundant because the department did not have a budget to cater for their wages.
He said the provincial government should accommodate these officers in their budget so that they add numbers to the police strength which is ready to take lawlessness at all levels.