The National, Monday July 1st, 2013
THE growing, smoking and illicit trafficking of marijuana are the leading offences in East New Britain in the past five to 10 years, statistics show.
The statistics, presented by members of the provincial law and order committee last week, showed the province had a serious situation to address.
The statistics were collated from cases dealt with at the three district courts in Kokopo, Rabaul and Kerevat from last year and January to February this year.
The courts recorded 175 cases involving illicit spirit and 138 drug offences last year, while there were 57 cases of illicit spirit and 35 drug offences for January and February.
These two cases were followed by sexual offences, which recorded 69 last year and seven in January and February.
The general crime trend of the province, which has always been known as peaceful, showed an increase in related offences from 2006 to 2010, with possession of dangerous drugs comprising the biggest portion.
Summary of crimes committed by each district show Gazelle district leading with 43%, Kokopo 30%, Rabaul 23% and Pomio 4%.
Community policing officer-in-charge Insp Michael Periwanga said police had recorded many crimes caused by illicit drugs and spirits.
Periwanga said proactive policing focused on awareness and education programmes in communities.
He said previously the province had only received marijuana from other centres in the country.
“The concern now is that marijuana is now being cultivated in our backyards just like any vegetable garden or inter-planted among other cash crop blocks,” he said.
He said homebrew or illicit spirit was now being distilled in people’s kitchens.
“Homebrew is becoming a lucrative business for many as they are being traded on the streets of Kokopo, Rabaul, secretly traded in the markets and even supplying other centres,” he said.