S’ville Police Plan To ID Child Vendors on Beach

Sihanoukville police believe that big numbers will mean less crime.

In a bid to deter petty crime, street children and others who sell snacks and drinks along the coast­al town’s beaches will soon be re­quired to register with police and wear a large identification card, po­lice said Tuesday.

The card will display the seller’s photo, include his or her name and age, and also sport an identification num­ber in bold font that can be read from several meters away, said Srey Vuthy, chief of Sihanouk­ville’s tourism police department.

Police hope the large identification numbers on the tags will help re­­duce petty theft on the beaches be­­cause it will allow tourists to better identify pickpockets—as they es­cape with their belongings—and help police track the culprits down, he said.

Srey Vuthy said that child vendors sometimes steal tourists’ be­longings while the visitors are sleeping or frolicking in the sea.

“There have been so many complaints from tourists,” he said.

There are about 1,000 children selling fruit, snacks and souvenirs al­ong Sihanoukville’s beaches, Srey Vuthy estimated. About 200 have already been registered, he said.

“We try to control them,” he added. “We want to know who they are and what they are doing.”

Children without identity cards will be prohibited from selling their wares, Srey Vuthy said, adding that each card could cost up to $1.

But it will be given out free to poor children if they promise to wear it on the beaches, he added.

Sihanoukville police Chief Da­ung Saroeun declined comment on the ID card program Tuesday, say­ing he was waiting for more in­formation from the tourism police.

Khim Sokhen, a Sihanoukville-based staffer for rights group Li­cadho, was skeptical about the plan.

“Police should educate [the children] about the law instead of making them carry cards,” he said. “They will still be able commit crimes by throwing this card away.”

Most children selling snacks along the beaches are doing honest work when they are free from class and that the ones who aren’t probably won’t comply with the new regulations anyway, he added.


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