Corruption - Solomon Star News

Corruption
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15 February 2021
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Dear Editor - In a couple of recent letters of mine I made mention the fact that despite high-level parties in the Solomon Islands looking into how best to solve corruption there was no clear answer found to tackle the scourge of corruption, recently said to be Solomon Island’s Elephant.

Three or four possible reasons were put forward during discussions on why corruption remains such a threat and why the Solomon Islands has such a dismal rating on the global corruption list.  On that list New Zealand had the best rating when it comes to being clean of corruption and corrupt practices.

I read a piece in your paper which reported the RSIPF is finding it difficult in disposing of high profile cases.

The report went on to say the two investigation departments with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) are finding it difficult to dispose of high profile cases quickly because there are more than 1,000 cases before the National Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and 300-plus at the National Professional Standard Unit.

Quote

Commissioner of Police Mostyn Mangau said to investigate even one case is not easy because the officers have to get evidence to support the allegations.

Mr. Mangau said some of the evidence are also in the provinces so officers need to go out and collect them.

“For example, one officer has to deal with 64 cases,” Commissioner Mangau told reporters yesterday.

End of Quote.

I can fully understand the concerns of the Commissioner of Police over his detective’s caseloads and from my own past experience, as a police officer undertaking detective and prosecution duties, for a single officer to have to deal with a caseload of 64 cases is far too much.

It prompts me to question therefore if the detective force of the RSIPF is so overloaded with work could this be another reason why there have been relatively few successful prosecutions and convictions of those alleged to have been involved in corrupt acts?

If follows if my question is answered with “yes”, then those who might be involved in corrupt practices feel they can get away with their unlawful behavior.

In order to maintain quality and high closure rates of investigations, it is important to keep the detectives' caseload to a workable level, if I might be permitted to comment.

An investigation caseload is a never-ending battle. Whether crime is up or down, cases never wait for the investigative unit to have more bandwidth.

Investigator caseload is a major pain point for law enforcement agencies and has a direct negative impact on clearance rates.

But solving the issue is not as simple as assigning more detectives. Investigators with the skills to solve cases aren’t always available in a police service such as the RSIPF with a small establishment of likely 1,500 personnel.  

Usually, detectives are found from seasoned members of the general duties ranks, and that takes time. 

Why it might be asked?  Well, a detective must have completed specialist training, gained field experience in investigating crimes and it would be unusual to gain the level of experience necessary in less than 5 years. 

In the RSIPF with just a few skilled investigators, there might be the need for a case screening process with the right case management software to allow a deeper dive into investigators’ active caseloads, examining not only the number of cases per investigator but also the status and progress of those cases. 

Sometimes, it’s clear that there just isn’t enough evidence to solve a case. No matter who is on it or how much effort they put into it. In the absence of some new developments, there will simply be no way to clear the case. In other words, for some crime types where the probability of solving the case is very low and the unit’s caseloads are very high, the best course of action could be to administratively close the case on intake and not invest manpower, unless actionable leads develop.

The RSIPF is well invested with seconded and funded foreign police advisors that might look into the concerns the police commissioner has manifested about current difficulties with high detective’s caseloads.

In my mind, the few successful prosecutions so far for those that have been involved in corruption is a major factor in reducing to size and eliminating Solomon Island’s Elephant.

 

Frank Short
solomonislandsinfocus

 

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