THE practices by some youths who filled up potholes on public roads and then demanded money from drivers could amount to criminal offences.
This is what Police Commissioner Matthew Varley said when responding to a question raised by a journalist at his weekly conference on Friday on this issue.
“There are responsible authorities around town that are responsible for maintaining roads,” Mr Varley said.
Mr Varley said they would always encourage communities to liaise with the ministry and council to report problem of the roads.
He said as they also understand there are times the community wants to do the right thing by helping improve the road and filling in potholes.
“There might be some good community spirit behind that.
“What is not acceptable and what cannot be allowed is demanding money from passersby who then feel confronted by a road block or some youths who might say, we fixed the potholes, now you must pay.
“That is clearly an unacceptable practice and depending on the circumstances on how that is carried out could amount to criminal offences.
“If there is a report of people being threatened or intimidated by people by the side of the road then police can certainly respond to that.
“Whilst we are saying that, people in the community if they are working together to try and fix the road conditions, we understand, but demanding money and stopping people and conducting roadblock, this is clearly against the law whether it is here in Honiara or around the province.”
Mr Varley said they have seen cases of that before.
“Where police have got evidence and where people can make statements and people have been threatened, then certainly we will investigate.
“If you come across that, be aware of your safety and protect your safety.
“Please don’t get into an argument with anyone and please don’t get out of the car and confront anyone.
“My best advice is to politely refuse and say you are not obliged to pay any money and to drive on.
“If you caused the situation to escalate, and it gets out of control and there is danger then get away to a place of safety and call for police help,”Mr Varley said.
The police chief said it simply relates to demanding money and particularly with demanding money with menaces, there is a threat of violence, so as blockage of passage, that is where police can investigate and take action.
“We understand sometimes communities do community work to improve their areas and their village but it becomes a criminal problem, an illegal problem if people then start block road, demand money or threatened others.”
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN