Perspectives 2023

Modernization and training are the watchwords. The police are forced to adapt in order to remain effective on the various fronts of the fight against crime, and in their public service mission in general. Organizational changes, optimization of resources and technological contributions are on the agenda.

Crime is not fixed, it evolves. The police must therefore constantly update their means of action and investigation. The fight cannot be fought without a good knowledge of the evolution of the methods employed by the outlaws and the technologies they use. Nor without close collaboration between the multiple components of the Mauritius Police Force (MPF) and with the other authorities concerned.

As part of the MPF Strategic Plan 2022-2025, launched early last year by the Prime Minister, a range of projects and changes are underway. The aim is to increase the effectiveness of the fight against organized crime, drug trafficking, money laundering, cybercrime and any other form of delinquency. It is also a matter of ensuring a quality public service mission for citizens.

Among the priorities of the police management is the strengthening of capacities within the various departments. The approach consists mainly of optimizing human resources. Police officers are thus supported in acquiring more efficient work methods. In addition, all the offices will gradually be brought up to international standards.

Redefined mode of operation

The mode of operation of police stations and the Emergency Response Team will be redefined to provide better service to the population. “Nou pe puts laksan on his kote ‘first contact’ there,” it says. The activity of the Crime Prevention Unit will also be reviewed. Put on hold for some time, public awareness campaigns will resume with the participation of various actors.

The merger of the Family Protection Unit and the Brigade for the protection of minors into a single entity, the Brigade for the protection of the family, is proceeding gradually. The unit is already operational and adjustments will be made over time as needed.

With regard to training, the creation of the Police Academy is on track. The architecture of the project is already finalized, we point out to the Central Barracks. In addition, memorandums of understanding have been signed with the authorities of other countries in the region so that Mauritian police officers benefit from training provided by foreign counterparts in several areas of expertise.

As every year, the MPF will welcome new members in 2023. At the police headquarters, we do not yet know the number of recruits envisaged but it is said that women will be well represented in the next promotion. It is considered, in fact, that the “female officers” are an asset and that their presence is crucial in the treatment of the many cases of sexual abuse and domestic violence.

In terms of the fight against domestic violence, the establishment of one-stop shops for victims, in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Security, is considered a major step forward. In addition, the Lespwar application, intended for battered women, serves as a model for another mobile application which will give elderly people the possibility of contacting the police, with a simple click, in the event of an assault. This new feature should be available very soon.

In terms of technology, the main innovation that the MPF will soon be equipped with is an automated fingerprint recognition system. Since the announcement of the project last year, the tendering procedures have been initiated. The Crime Record Office of the Central Barracks will host this tool. Eventually, thanks to the constitution of a database from the fingerprints of arrested persons, they will be able to be immediately identified if they reoffend or commit another type of offence.

As for the National Coast Guard, it will soon receive a new patrol vessel (High Patrol Vessel) to strengthen surveillance in the vast exclusive economic zone of Mauritius. Nearly three years after the sinking of the MV Wakashio, maritime traffic will also be able to be better controlled thanks to the installation of the New Coastal Surveillance Radar System, whose operations center will be at the port. This technology was funded with the help of the Japanese government.

Illegal fishing: 90 meters of fishing nets seized

Zero tolerance for illegal fishing in our waters.

90 meters of fishing nets were seized at sea in the Pointe-aux-Piments region, yesterday, Thursday January 5, during a patrol led by Fisheries Protection Officers.

Equipment used for illegal fishing was also seized.

These corpses awaiting repatriation

At the start of the year, three corpses are awaiting repatriation. These are the remains of two Bangladeshis who died a month ago of natural causes and the body of Henri Fred Barret. This 50-year-old Reunionese is one of the four victims, having lost his life in the road accident which occurred in Beau-Plan on December 28th.
His corpse is kept in the morgue of Jeetoo Hospital and those of the Bangladeshi workers are in Victoria Hospital in Candos.

But, for how many days can the remains remain in the morgue?

In hospitals, we are talking about a six-month period for conservation, the time for relatives to arrive and repatriation procedures to be completed.

People who initiate this procedure must present documents including identity card and death certificate among others.

It also happens that relatives refuse to pay for the body and the funeral expenses, for lack of adequate insurance cover. In this case, the body is then left for a long stay in the morgue, before the health office takes charge of the cremation or burial of the deceased person.

It is also explained that when remains remain too long, it is common to transfer them to morgues that are not filled. Those of Candos Hospital and Jeetoo Hospital, the only two establishments where autopsies are performed, are considered the most appropriate.

It should be noted that the five regional hospitals have a morgue and twelve places are available in each of these establishments.

Road safety: halve the number of accidents

Consumption of alcohol or drugs, speeding and distraction while driving (use of the telephone, for example) are the main causes of road accidents. The police fight against bad road behavior by focusing on both prevention and repression. “We have a strategic plan that spans several years. The current objective is to reduce the number of accidents and especially victims by 50%”, indicates Sub-Inspector Mirzah Boodhun, of the Traffic Branch. “In recent years, more than half of fatal accident victims have been drivers or passengers of two-wheelers,” he says.

“Road checks are primarily aimed at deterring road users from breaking the law. We are very present on the roads and we will remain so after the festive period, especially in places where there is a strong night activity, such as in Grand-Baie and Flic-en-Flac. For its part, the Traffic Management and Road Safety Unit takes care of the infrastructural aspect and awareness campaigns”, continues Mirzah Boodhun.

The use, in recent months, of drug screening kits represents a significant advance in road safety, he believes. “We have already had many people test positive in 2022. We will be tough on those who endanger the lives of others by driving under the influence of narcotics. The same goes for alcohol,” warns the Sub-Inspector.

For its part, the Traffic Management Unit will still have its work cut out for it in 2023. With the extension of the Metro Express network and the many road infrastructure projects underway and to come, it is up to this unit based at the Central Barracks to guarantee the fluidity of traffic despite the works. A mission that it carries out in consultation with the Traffic Branch and the Police Research Development Unit.

In addition, starting this year, educational work will be undertaken with driving school instructors to encourage them to train future drivers in a different way.

Customs: reinforced resources

Customs services are not under the authority of the police but of the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA). However, the Custom Anti-Narcotics Section (CANS) is complementary to the anti-drug trafficking units, the Anti-Drug and Smuggling Unit and the recent Special Striking Team.

A “memorandum of understanding” is being prepared with the Forensic Science Laboratory with a view to setting up a formula for the rapid exchange of information. “We work in collaboration with different police departments, including the FSL, which informs us about new drugs in circulation. The objective is to strengthen this cooperation to be more effective,” said a CANS official.

The staff of the CANS will be increased in 2023. Several equipment will also appear. A new body scanner will be installed in the port area after the cruise terminal enters into operation. At least five other scanners are planned at Plaisance airport. In Rodrigues, customs officers will be equipped with a new X-ray device for checking postal parcels.

The creation of the Police Academy is on track.
The creation of the Police Academy is on track.

A sea operations simulator

A space for simulating search operations on ships will be inaugurated on January 26, on the occasion of World Customs Day. This equipment is a donation made to the MRA by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Customs officers, but also police officers, including the coast guard, will be able to use it for training and training. “Li pou kouma enn bato lor lamer, e pou kapav antrene kouma fer bann lafouy lor bato”, we explain to CANS. Other countries in the region will benefit from this installation in Mauritius.

Finally, customs will have its own video surveillance room in the port. All the images from the cameras in the port area, live and recorded, can be viewed there.

A new scientific laboratory at a cost of Rs 600 million

The Forensic Science Laboratory will have new, larger and more modern premises. On August 1, 2022, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth announced that 13.5 million dollars (nearly Rs 600 million) would be disbursed to materialize this project and that the new establishment would be ready in 2024. A Drug Unit was created within of the police scientific laboratory in September 2021. Composed of about fifteen technicians, it has all the necessary equipment for the analysis of drug seizures. However, the current space does not allow the team of scientists to carry out several analyzes simultaneously without running the risk of contaminating exhibits. For the moment, it is therefore not possible to make up for a significant backlog accumulated over several years. However, there is urgency, because this situation is blocking the investigation of many drug trafficking cases.

Prisons: two new body scanners

Like the Beau-Bassin penal center, the Grande-Rivière-Nord-Ouest prison and the Eastern High Security Prison, in Melrose, will each be equipped with a “body scanner”. The cost of the project is finally Rs 18 million, while the Minister of Finance had announced an envelope of Rs 6 million in the speech of the Budget in 2020. These sophisticated detection devices make it possible to prevent the introduction into the prison environment of prohibited products or objects (drugs, mobile phones, weapons, etc.) by inmates, visitors or guards who have hidden them inside their bodies.

Perspectives 2023 – Police: evolving to better fight crime