Private Column by Frank Short, CBE
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Monday, 25 February 2013 12:00 AM

Policing a Clash of Cultures Part 21: My Strategic Plan for the Solomon Islands Police

Extract from my memoirs.

One needs to establish a Plan of Action when one arrives at a new post. Often the pre-conceived perception of the new job is not the complete reality.

A general rule of thumb is that there is a window of about 30 days where you can see the wood from the trees before getting engulfed in the daily goings on.

One takes a quick encompassing look at the overall operation and absorbs a general picture of what needs to be done to either remedy or improve situations. Now you write ‘Your Plan.’ This is your guide which you will need to refer back to, as you make adjustments to developing situations. It is the lifeline and base to clear thinking as you move forward in the job. If you fail to write one you can end up as the master of a rudderless ship.

I included a Strategic Development plan which encompassed reaching out to certain other countries for expert help in certain areas. They included naturally the UK and our neighbours Australia and New Zealand. Other sources included Singapore, and the Republic of China (ROC).

The one submitted to the British Government asked for a five year support package in order to bring about an efficient, accountable and professional police service.

It included the secondment of six British Police Advisers with expertise in administration, management, operations and operational planning, training, communications, including information technology development, criminal investigations, prosecutions and special branch operations.

In addition to the secondment of those advisers, I requested the help of short-term experts in white-collar crime investigations, human resource training and personnel management.

Well… if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

Naturally we got the standard sympathetic response followed by the usual regrets concerning lack of funds. However, we now had the requests in the pipeline, the paperwork would not go away and the waiting game was in process.

Subsequently, we did get two spots opened to us in the UK Police Staff College, Bramshill; available for two Chief Superintendents. Now we would have a key area of UK expertise in specific technical training embedded in our own officers.

A trickle…but better than nothing.

Another part of the Plan included an early approach to the New Zealand High Commissioner for money to re-build our then derelict White River Police Station. A successful, positive move, it was quickly sanctioned and supported equally by the British High Commission.

The new station facility was commissioned and became operational within a few months. The White River and adjoining communities looked on the rebuilt building with visual pride and satisfaction. It certainly looked more prosperous, authoritative, and ‘police’ looking than the visual everyone looked at previously. A positive forward step.

As it happened when the UK’s response to my Strategic Development Plan finally arrived, it was during the time when operational planning for the upcoming general election was out front in immediate planning. Considerations of major reforms had to give way to taking early measures to ensuring a trouble free election. If one fails the ‘now’ there usually is no need for the ‘future.’

We needed to deploy large numbers of police officers, and considering the difference between our theoretical staffing and actual staffing, shortages of transport and communications, this was a headache and hangover combined.

However much needed transportation help arrived courtesy of the Republic of China Government.

By the time election week came into focus, the ROC Government had officially handed over to the Force several brand new, four wheel type vehicles, similar to Land Rovers, some motor cycles and a 30 seat bus to convey personnel.

To be continued ……

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Frank Short, CBE and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.