Police only have 100 vehicles, says police chief
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN
Police Commissioner Matthew Varley says the police force does not have many vehicles as people think.
He was responding a questioned raised by a journalist at his weekly conference last week in relation to complaints made by the public in relation to the issue of police vehicles.
“We don’t have as many cars as you think,” Mr Varley said.
Mr Varley said the police force have 100 vehicles across the country, making it quite a large fleet, but not everyone of them is in its new state.
“What I also know is that some of the vehicles are in poor conditions,” Mr Varley said.
He said they are looking at how many they need to replace and he is talking with government about the costs.
“If you think about 100 cars across the country and divide by the number of police, we have more than 1, 500 police in the country. It is not an easy sign so we will do our best.
“But I want people to keep calling police stations and ask for support and we will do our very best to respond,” Mr Varley said.
The police commissioner said they are doing their best to make sure that vehicles are allocated to the front line stations.
Mr Varley said, he had issued a lot of instructions to the officers to make sure they have vehicles out on the road ready to response to jobs.
“In my view, the absence of a vehicle to respond to a crime report is not a satisfactory answer.
“We continue to work with our Provincial Police Commanders and our senior officers to make sure we are doing our best and have the vehicles where we need them.”
He however added that things have changed over the recent years and officers should be doing patrols when they can.
“Times have changed over the years and it was not as easy as policing once it was.
“We deal with many dozens of reports per day across Honiara and our officers have to cover a vast distance of the city.
“As you know, this is a big city with big populations.
“If we had to walk everywhere, we would not be able to move around very fast and so vehicles are very important and times have changed, police need to move around in vehicles to do their job as well as on foot.
“I think the RSIPF does have a problem with how many vehicles we have and maintenance of those vehicles.”
He added that it does not take a rocket scientist to look around and see some of their vehicles are old and in poor condition.
Mr Varley said they are struggling to maintain the vehicles and he is not very happy about that.
“A lot of our vehicles are breaking down regularly and a lot of them have been gifted and donated over the RAMSI years.”
Mr Varley said they have just recently commissioned the projects inside the RSIPF with the support from the Solomon Islands Police Development program (SIPDP).
He said this is an Australian program, to look at their overall fleet, repair status and to look at the overall fleet sustainability.
When asked by a journalist if some officers are using vehicles for wrong purposes, Mr Varley said, he has heard those reports as well.
Mr Varley said there are some examples of some cases last year where they have taken some actions on people who have misused police cars.
“And we will continue to do that.
“The bottom line is that police officers should not be using cars for their own private reasons and there are rules against that and if we find out that has occurred then we take swift action,” Mr Varley added.
Mr Varley said only the assistance commissioners, deputy commissioners and the commissioner are allocated executive vehicles which they are entitled to use off duty.
He said below that, officers are not allocated personal cars.
“However there are rules and procedures around when a car can be garaged away from home if there are operational reason and there is a process in place for that, but people should not have personal cars.”