The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) celebrated its 12th anniversary on Friday 24th July with a “Police in Communities” day at the Divit Rural Training Centre, Visale in North West Guadalcanal.
The event was attended by the Prime Minister the Hon. Manasseh Sogavare; Government Ministers; the Premier of Guadalcanal the Hon. Bartholomew Vavanga; senior government officials; the Commissioner of Police and his Executive; the Commander of RAMSI’s Participating Police Force (PPF) and PPF officers; and diplomatic representatives from countries contributing to RAMSI. Chiefs and other community leaders from nearby villages around Saghalu Ward were also invited.
“To mark the anniversary, we wanted to conduct a community-focused event that was aimed at promoting greater awareness of the positive and ongoing changes within the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) in recent years,” said Ms Justine Braithwaite, RAMSI’s Special Coordinator.
Following consultations with the Guadalcanal Provincial Government, the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace and the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) it was agreed for RAMSI to organise the community day at Visale.
“We are very grateful that Sister Concilia, and the staff and students of the Divit Rural Training Centre, have been so generous in hosting us today (Friday),” said Ms Braithwaite.
PPF Commander Greg Harrigan noted “The highlight of the day was a ‘wakabaot toktok’ with the chiefs, community leaders, women and youth from Visale and nearby communities. We heard about issues of concern, and discussed perceptions of community safety and the work of the RSIPF”.
The RSIPF Commissioner, Frank Prendergast, advised “We are working to improve the accountability and responsiveness of the RSIPF. Under the new Crime Prevention model, partnership with the community is our most important strategy. We know we need to improve the service we are providing to the public and we are working hard to do that.”
“The feedback we received from the chiefs and local leaders during the “wakabaot toktok” was very important and can only help the RSIPF strengthen its relations with communities throughout Solomon Islands,” added the Commissioner.
RAMSI also used the occasion to discuss its current priorities, the Staged Limited Rearmament of the RSIPF and the Mission’s drawdown. The RSIPF Community Policing Team set up a stall at the venue and answered questions from members of the community about the work of the police throughout the day.
The RAMSI 12th anniversary “Police in Communities” day at Visale also included sporting activities for pikinini, as well as performances by students at the Divit Rural Training Centre, local cultural groups, the RSIPF Police Band, and members of the Pacific Islands contingent in the RAMSI PPF.
The event is intended to be the first of a series of community consultations on policing and security issues in other provinces, as RAMSI continues its drawdown towards 2017.