Police have so far been encouraged with the behaviour displayed by crowds during the second round of Solomon Cup matches played today at Lawson Reserve, Honiara.With an increased presence of Royal Solomon Island Police Force officers (RSIPF) at the game to deter a repeat of Saturday's unacceptable behaviour, police have reported that crowds are enjoying the matches.
They say that there is an atmosphere of support for this major event to continue 'incident free' up to and including the finals this coming weekend.
Police Commissioner Peter Marshall has committed officers to patrols of both inside and outside of Lawson Tama Reserve. There is also an increased police presence in Honiara to deal with associated traffic and pedestrian congestion.
"We are completely supportive of major events such as the football being played in Honiara. However, we must always reinforce that there is a shared responsibility when hosting events with large spectator participation," Commissioner Marshall said.
"Both organisers and spectators need to take on the responsibility of maintaining a safe and enjoyable environment for the local community. It is only when this is compromised that police will step in and take charge," he said.
Police have commented that while they are disappointed with the actions of a number of spectators last Saturday, they are pleased with the management and response by RSIPF officers to the situation.
"I had three senior RSIPF officers on the ground coordinating our response after the incident and I feel that on their direction, police acted swiftly to minimize the impact of the anti-social behavior in Chinatown," Commissioner Marshall said.
So far, 17 arrests have been made, with enquiries still ongoing into a number of smaller investigations relating to Saturday's incident.
Commissioner Marshall has commented on questions raised regarding the appropriate management of police resources at major events to address speculation on where the policing responsibility lies.
"I can assure you that the RSIPF takes full responsibility for managing all policing aspects and it is only when we feel it necessary, that we may call on the assistance of the RAMSI Participating Police Force or, in extreme circumstances, RAMSI's Military contingent to support our officers and community," he said.
"On this occasion, when we alerted the Participating Police Force, a response team was dispatched to assist the RSIPF. These officers deployed to Chinatown until the situation calmed down when they stood down at our request."
Mr Marshall said that at his request the PPF and RAMSI military also had extra resources on stand-by in case of further deterioration in the situation.
"However, we elected not to call for any further assistance as our RSIPF officers, their PPF Advisers and the Police Response Team took control and dispersed the crowds from the venue," he said.
RSIPF officers from the Chinatown Post also led the arrests of several men suspected of looting offences.
RAMSI PPF advisors continue to work closely with RSIPF and its National Criminal Investigation Department to finalise arrests and prosecutions in regards to the arson attack on the SIFF building at Lawson Tama.
Commissioner Marshall also commented on suggestions that armed police officers from the PPF should have been in attendance, saying that a crowded community event is not a suitable place for police to carry firearms.
"A football match is a community event where families seek entertainment and recreational enjoyment." "The carrying of firearms in a highly populated venue is not appropriate and police use other methods to deal with crowd and anti-social issues," he said.
RSIPF officers will continue their high visibility policing of the Solomon Cup until its conclusion and Commissioner Marshall urged both the organisers and the patrons to responsibly work together with the community to ensure this event is a success.