POLICE Commissioner Frank Prendergast says the proposed Police Development Mission is not the same type of mission as the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
He was responding to media reports of a possible continuation of the Australian policesupport to the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) to which he said needed some clarification.
“The RAMSI mission is due to finish in the middle of 2017,” Mr Prendergast said.
“RAMSI was set up to deal with an extraordinary situation and that situation is now changed,” he explained.
“So it is appropriate RAMSI is finishing in 2017.”
Mr Prendergast said RAMSI and the Police Participating Force (PPF) together with a lot of other people have done the right job in rebuilding RSIPF to a point where the community can have confidence in RSIPF.
Mr Prendergast said so many operations in the past weeks are a testament to that.
“That does not mean however that there is no room for improvement in the RSIPF and that does not mean there is no need for continued development of RSIPF.
“So for some considerable time the SIG and the Australian and New Zealand Government have been in discussions about what thrives from RAMSI Mission.
“The police force including myself are heavily involved in those discussions and they are ongoing.
“What is likely to happen is that there will be some forms of continued Police Development Mission in the Solomons which will align with the type of Police Development Missions you see in many countries around the world.
“It is not the same as RAMSI.
“It is a different type of mission.
“If you think about the RAMSI mission the PPF, are police officers in the Solomon Islands.
“They have all the powers of police officers, they are armed, and they have executive authority so they operate as police.”
Mr Prendergast further explained that the development mission police are here as advisers, they are unarmed, most likely not in uniform, they are here to provide mentoring and training.
He said they don’t have police powers and if you wondered what that sort of mission that looks like you just have to look at places like East Timor, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Samoa and places around Pacific and around the world.
“That is quite common when you have intervention like we’ve had with RAMSI but after intervention concludes there will be some form of ongoing support.
“When talk about support, if you look at RSIPF, we still need to improve, we still need to build our capacity in areas such as community policing, crime prevention, investigations, and we need support and welcome support around continuing to develop our communication networks.”
Mr Prendergast said it is a sort of a very much normal situation so that ongoing capacity development mission is still under discussions and still being designed.
“It depends very much on the arrangements between SIG and the development donors that might be involved.
“The RAMSI mission was a response to an extraordinary situation. And now this is much more normal situation. That is the purpose of follow on mission.
“What that looks like, how many people involved and how it is set up really depends on the nature of the RSIPF and donors capacity to that those lengths.”
He further said most mission are designed on two or four year cycle and this would be a program for four years.
Mr Prendergast said at the conclusion of the four years there will be discussions on whether the mission needs to continue or whether there is funding for it to continue or if it does what sort of shape will it take.
“But will not be here as the same way or capacity as RAMSI’s being here and certainly it is not a permanent presence.”
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN