Private Column by Frank Short, CBE
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Monday, 4 February 2013 12:00 AM

Policing a Clash of Cultures Part 12: Primary Duties of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force

Extract from memoirs

As will be found in another chapter, I wrote, paid for and issued a detailed Purpose and Direction Manual for the members of the Force to guide them in their daily duties.

In talks given to the community during visits to locations bordering Honiara, such as St Joseph’s Mission, or Kola Hill, or when talking to students at schools and colleges, addressing Rotary or when speaking with my police colleagues, I stressed the aims and objectives of the police service and the need for good public relations.

One explained the primary aim of the service was the prevention of crime; next the detection of offenders if a crime is committed. I also stressed the need for the protection of life and property and for maintaining the public peace.

It was explained how a police officer stands, as in the special relationship to a community. He or she undertakes special responsibilities in regard to the primary duties and generally holds a position of trust which is important to be able to maintain.

In support of my policy on public relations, I wrote the following order:

“It is the duty of every member of the RSIPF to cultivate good relations with all sections of the public, and always to bear in mind that, where such good relations do not exist, police officers work under a severe hardship and cannot be fully effective.

“In your dealings with the public, you are often required to exercise firmness, and sometimes obliged to resort to force in carrying out your duty. Firmness, however, must be guided by tact, patience and good humour, and any force used must be the minimum necessary to secure compliance with the law.

“You, as, members of the Force, have special powers not possessed by the ordinary members of the public, and it is of the utmost importance that these powers should be carried out with discretion and tolerance. Harsh or oppressive conduct, incivility, and the use of unnecessary violence can in no circumstances by justified or tolerated and are punishable offences in police regulations.

“Arguments with the public on matters of duty must be avoided; it rarely convinces anyone and naturally irritates persons already having some real or imaginary grievance.

“All the members of the Force must constantly remember that one offender in this respect may give a bad name to the police generally, and that a display of bad temper, or the harsh or oppressive use of authority, by one police officer may have adverse effects of a far-reaching nature on the Force as a whole.

“The best type of police officer is, when on duty, always alert, observant, firm but good humoured and, importantly, impartial in all his dealings with the public.”

The members of the National Reconnaissance and Surveillance Force (NRSF) had specific operational duties to perform, which will be outlaid in detail in a further chapter, but the members of the NRSF were, at all times, guided by the requirements of my orders and requirements for the cultivation of good public relations.

To be continued

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