The RSIP has done well to quickly identify and arrest several persons allegedly involved in the weekend arson attack on the Honiara SIFF administrative building and it is hoped the suspects will be soon be charged and brought before the court.
My concern, however, is that although praiseworthy the police response has been merely reactive to criminal activities which several of your correspondents seem to concur was a likely consequence of a soccer match played between teams which, in the past, has often resulted in both on-field and off-field violence.
Policing in the Solomons, in Vanuatu and in Papua New Guinea, requires a pro-active policy of crime prevention, including the prior deployment of police personnel in sufficient strength to events where suspected incidents are most likely to occur, based on information, evidence, or on the likelihood of trouble given the tribal or ethnic make-up of the participants.
Prevention is better than a cure, as it is said, and it follows that reactionary policing is not the answer to policing anywhere, but especially in Melanesia where the consequences of failing to carry out intelligent policing based on preventative methods can, and often does, cause major economic woes, hardship and social tension.
The widescale rioting which took place in Honiara in April 2006 when most of China town was looted and burned should, I would have thought, have been sufficient warning, if any was needed, that the strategic prior, deployment of numerical numbers of police personnel suitably equipped and briefed, should have taken place before the commencement of the soccer match last weekend.
The best of Melanesian tried and tested policing practices and policies, provided they meet internationally recognised standards, should, in my view, be recognised and implemented for I believe local knowledge, based on shared experiences, can be beneficial and help in the understanding of those unexplained actions and occurrences which, in Western eyes, do not fit the templates with which we (and here I would include foreign seconded personnel, as I once was), are often trained to model our thoughts and planning.
Reactive Policing Is Not The Answer
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Frank Short and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.
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