Good work done but much remain - Solomon Star News

Good work done but much remain

19 November 2013
Author 

I am encouraged to read that the new Special Coordinator to the Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI) has said she will continue to work with the RSIPF in support of the SIG-RAMSI five year development plan announced comparatively recently.

I acknowledge the excellent work undertaken by RAMSI since 2003 in re-training and developing the capacity of the local policemen and women in their operational and administrative duties.

The provision of new police housing and police facilities, including police stations and posts has added to the morale and welfare of the members of the police service when accommodation was much needed.

It has, also, undoubtedly contributed to operational effectiveness.

On looking from outside, as I do, the overall picture being painted by RAMSI of the capacity of the RSIPF to effectively, independently, impartially and  professionally  undertake its multifarious tasks required, looks  “ rosy”, so to say.

There are those, however, who have quite different opinions that are constantly being raised in the media, particularly in respect of the neutrality of some police officers over  issues regarding failing to respond to incidences of street offences such as drinking alcohol in public and recently allegations of policemen being less than neutral when dealing with logging operators and even cases alleging involvement in the confiscation and wrongful removal of beche-der-mer.

Ms Braithwaite has said she has taken on her new assignment at a crucial time and I would encourage her to ensure the RSIPF is adequately prepared, resourced and made ready to once more go it alone.   

I suggest to her, if not already done, that the police service is issued with General Orders and Force Standing Orders to guide individual police personnel in the performance and requirements of their daily duties.  

Such orders must supplement the Force's Mission, Code of Ethics and Practice.

To gauge the success, or otherwise of the RSIPF's effectiveness as a police organization, not only must priority be given to full community consultation and joint planning to meet local community expectations and security needs, but the Force must produce an Annual Report to be tabled in Parliament which, to my knowledge, has not yet been done in the ten years since RAMSI's arrival
I should add, too, without effective measuring procedures such as performance indicators built into police operations for community policing and consultation there will be inadequate information to evaluate performance or otherwise.

The Acting Police Commissioner has said the Rove Police Headquarters is "overcrowded" to use her words and available re-building capacity is limited.   

I would hope that RAMSI will give priority to devising and funding new facilities for an operational and administrative headquarters as part of the five year strategic development plan already pre-announced, Capacity building described in the same plan seems rather vague and short on facts, just as 'institutional strengthening' was similarly vague and contributed nothing of value at a time in the past when the institution was crumbling from within.  

Perhaps, Ms Braithwaite could be more specific as to what capacity building will actually be aimed at achieving.
 
I have noted that the 5 year plan, quoted, provides for a degree of maintenance of the equipment supplied already, but could the maintenance program be made clearer?

Also, maintenance personnel need to visit stations and posts throughout the Islands to regularly check and repair or service the equipment such as vehicles, canoes and other equipment such as outboard engines?   

Ideally, there should be Inspection Officers appointed to regularly visit all police stations and posts and to carry out physical checks of everything from buildings, equipment, personnel and performance of overall and individual duties.  

Here again, a General Duties Manual and Force Orders, updated and issued periodically, could help to ensure compliance with policy and orders.   

One only needs to recall that the fire engine at Auki Police Station could not be used to attend to a serious fire at a local primary school because the battery was flat due to a lack of proper maintenance and supervision

I very much hope the Solomon Islands Government will continue to support RAMSI and that, ultimately, we will again see a police organization truly neutral, impartial and operationally free in service of the nation.
 
FRANK SHORT
Former Police Commissioner

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