Wednesday, 17 October 2012 8:26 AM

Police Morale Steps Up in Isabel

In the Solomon Islands' province of Isabel, police morale is up and community confidence is growing, much to the support of RAMSI's Participating Police Force, the Royal Solomon Islands Police and the communities.

According to the 2011 People's Survey-a national public perception survey of nearly 5,000 Solomon Islanders-Isabel has the highest levels of perceived safety and perceived police improvement in the nation.

But the 2011 People's Survey also revealed that while communities in Isabel and elsewhere believe that their police force is improving; limited resources are preventing the police from meeting community expectations.

And for the police officers themselves, the survey revealed the discouragement they feel in being unable to deliver the level of policing to which they aspire because of limited resources.

This is one of the main reasons the Provincial Police Commander for Isabel, Gabriel Manulusi, is so delighted that the old decrepit provincial police headquarters was selected for replacement by a new, modern, functional building as part of RAMSI's new targeted infrastructure support for the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.

"Because of the new building, the behaviour and lives of people have changed," Commander Manulusi said in a recent interview, just after the new headquarters was commissioned.

"The building has changed the picture of the heart of Isabel. That is how I see it. Police officers too have changed. Because of the good working environment, they are very happy and they look forward to working with the government, churches and the good people of Isabel to maintain law and order."

While stepping back from everyday policing, RAMSI's Participating Police Force (PPF) continues to support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) progress into a modern, effective and independent force which has the full confidence and support of the community.

RAMSI's support in the provinces is continuing through a mentoring program, communications and logistical support and by helping local police develop community crime prevention programmes. A key area of support is rebuilding and refurbishing dilapidated police buildings and equipment throughout the country.

RAMSI's support to improve the living and working conditions of the police force to-date has seen the completion of 72 new police houses with a further 62 currently under construction. And by the end of 2012, nine police stations in eight provinces will have either been renovated or replaced.

These improvements not only provide better, modern facilities and a sound base to conduct operations, but have a marked impact on the morale of officers as well as encourage them to take up postings in provincial areas.

The new and improved buildings also improve the visibility and professionalism of the police force and their commitment to serving the community.

On August 30, 2012, Isabel's new police headquarters was unveiled before a large and excited crowd in Buala, the provincial capital.

The new Australian funded two-storey Provincial Police Headquarters, consisting of a police station, detention facilities and training areas, replaces the previous dilapidated headquarters which was beyond economic repair.

Premier of Isabel, James Habu, speaking at the opening, said his hope was that the new headquarters would inspire a new generation of police officers.
"We know our police officers will be happy with their new office and aspiring young people will be motivated to join the police force.

"The police are very important in ensuring the safety of communities. In doing so, it provides an environment for provincial governments to provide service delivery confidently," he said.

Minister for Police, National Security and Correctional Services, David Tome believes the headquarters will lift the performance of the local police force.
"Having a new facility will raise the expectations that the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force will perform its duties. The communities of Isabel will expect more from the police in terms of patrolling, quick responses to incidents and proper completion of cases reported to police"

Acting RAMSI Special Coordinator, Justine Braithwaite believes the headquarters recognises the progress the RSIPF has made in Isabel and elsewhere.
"RAMSI built this police headquarters because RAMSI believes in the RSIPF. RAMSI views the RSIPF as a strong and professional police force that can maintain law and order in Buala and elsewhere in Solomon Islands.

"The RSIPF is taking forward policing in Buala and everywhere in Solomon Islands. The work of the Participating Police Force has changed from standing side by side with the RSIPF in frontline policing to developing the capacity of the RSIPF."

The Buala headquarters represents another step in the gradual transition of RAMSI out of Solomon Islands.

By giving the police force the foundation needed for it to run effectively and independently, RAMSI is helping RSIPF build a sustainable future.

RAMSI's PPF has now stepped back from 10 police posts in the provinces, including Isabel, and is now concentrating almost solely on support and strengthening role.
RAMSI will continue to support the local police force for at least another five years. This work aims to achieve two outcomes.

First, that the RSIPF is capable of independently carrying out its mandated functions of maintaining law and order and targeting corrupt conduct. And secondly, that the RSIPF develops a model of policing that will be appropriate, affordable and sustainable once RAMSI eventually leaves.

Letters to the Editor All Letters
By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province