Community Policing was a key topic in the discussions held by the Minister of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Hon Samuel Manetoali during his trip to Australia last week.

Mr. Manetoali, who was accompanied by his Permanent Secretary George Hiele, said the visit had proved very fruitful for developing a model of community policing well-suited to Solomon Islands culture and environment.

The minister, who held talks with senior police and prison authourities in Australia, also visited the International Deployment Group (IDG) in Canberra where most RAMSI Participating Police Force (PPF) members including those from the Pacific are trained.

Seeing how the IDG training program works had provided him with a much better understanding of the recruitment and training of Australian police officers who are deployed to RAMSI and other missions around the world, Mr. Manetoali said.

The Minister met with the IDG's National Manager Frank Prendergast and the IDG Executive to discuss the current and future plans for training PPF members.

He was also shown around the Operational Response Group facility at Fairbairn and the IDG's 'Pacific' training village.

"The tour of the training village in Canberra gave me a good insight into how the AFP and Pacific Islands officers are trained before they come to the Solomon Islands," the Minister said at Honiara airport on his return last week.

"I also met with two officers from the Solomon Islands Police Force who are in Canberra training the AFP officers. It was good to see, firsthand, the involvement of Pacific Islanders in the training process," he said.

The Minister said he appreciated the opportunity the trip had given him and his Permanent Secretary to have fuller discussions about the plans for developing the SIPF.

"I was briefed regarding the continuing training of our SIPF middle and senior management," Mr. Manetoali said.

"The training is being provided by the AFP and the Australian Institute of Police Management and it is giving our police officers many skills that they are then able to bring back to the Solomon Islands."

Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner, Mick Keelty hosted a formal dinner for Mr. Manetoali, which was attended by the Solomon Islands High Commissioner, Victor Ngele and representatives from AusAID, the AFP, and the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Defence.

The Minister also held meetings with the Hon. Bob Debus, the Australian Minister for Home Affairs, and Nick Warner, the Secretary of Defence, in which the ongoing success of RAMSI was discussed. Mr. Debus said he wanted to visit Solomon Islands later in the year.

Mr. Manetoali was also accompanied on the trip by RAMSI PPF Program Manager Mission Support, Bill Quade.