Extract from my memoirs.


The intervention of the Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI) to the Solomon Islands, brought about at the request of the Solomon Islands Government in 2003, has succeeded, it is largely claimed, in bringing about a large measure of internal security; promoted the need for good governance and aided the start to serious economic recovery of the nation after the tragedy of the years of ethnic tension

RAMSI, however, has begun its gradual transition from the country after almost ten years and it is now time to take stock and assess, from a policing perspective, what measures need to be adopted and implemented to ensure the continuity of stability and security.

The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) must define a clear, strategic police plan for the future with pro-active measures and contain performance indicators. Such a plan must wholly incorporate the wishes of the people and be responsive to their collective needs.

There are some worrying signs for the future. The national economy will experience difficulty when, as predicted, the logging industry collapses in 2015. Urban drift and unemployment have already seen a significant movement of people into Honiara and led to the proliferation of informal housing settlements; an increase in anti-social behaviour, including vandalism; drugs and alcohol abuse, prostitution, petty crimes; and reportedly an increase in motor vehicle offences.

On a broader scale, the global economic downturn, the changing weather patterns and risk of natural disasters, will add greater concerns and pressures on the government.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has completed its work. The Commission of Inquiry into Land Dealings and Abandoned Properties has been suspended, but it is important to realize that outcomes to both Commissions will be critical to the future maintenance of peace and reconciliation.

Strategic Management and Planning.

Strategic management has been defined as “the process of aligning the internal capabilities of an organization with the external demands of its environment. The strategic management process forms the basis to formulate and implement strategies that achieve an organization’s goals and objectives.”

The RSIPF must begin to address two questions in their planning. Firstly, where is the force now in relation to the needs of the external environment and, secondly where is the force now in terms of its own effectiveness and efficiency and to what extent does it meet the external needs.

An environmental scanning and corporate appraisal, such as a SWOT analysis, should quickly identify the strengths and weakness currently facing the police service. My guess would be there would be problems found in the organization and management structure, in discipline, personnel, financial and technical areas, corporate performance, systems and critically in resource availability, capabilities and resource utilization.

If I am right, then there will be a great need for catch-up in the months and years ahead, and resource procurement will need to feature significantly.

Community First Policing and Corporate Vision.

In an environment where available money is tight it will present an enormous challenge for the government to provide the RSIPF with all the resources it needs to meet its objectives and substantial help from Solomon Island’s regional and global partners will be needed if the police service is to deliver its services effectively.

Once there is a clear view of the capabilities of the police and the environmental influences then its corporate vision must embrace the thinking of the service and be the driving force behind everything which the force and its personnel do.

Moving Towards Community First Policing.

Unlike in the past, the RSIPF’s service standards must set out clearly what the community expects and its policing plans, whether at the national level, or at the provincial level, should concentrate on what the people want to see delivered by the service. Working in partnership with the community is the only way to focus the direction of operations and support services. Such planning will let the people see what it is hoped to achieve for policing and aid accountability.

The planning processes must, however, be carefully exercised to ensure the accomplishment of the objectives and mission. The details, must, also, combine all the aspects of public safety activity with the realization of future problems.

Setting a Standard.

Here are suggested ways to demonstrate the RSIPF will be committed to serving the community.

Upholding a statement of values, committed to public service, first and foremost.

Listening to the people.

Treating everyone fairly and with respect.

Keeping the people informed and offering help and advice.

Taking effective action.

Being easy to contact at all levels within the organization.

At a time of RAMSI’s transition, it is important that the community can feel confident about the RSIPF’s ability to protect the public and the manner in which the force will re-dedicate itself about the ways in which it will work.

The community will expect to see results, to witness maximum effectiveness and effort, high standards of discipline, smartness and efficiency and to be able, once more, to see the RSIPF ascend to the high ground in maintaining its sovereign responsibility of maintaining law and order.

Best Use of Resources.

Whatever police plan might be adopted it is obvious that the RSIPF will be working on a relatively limited budget and the right model of policing for the Solomon Islands must be built on its values and with a clear set of principles, uppermost being to ensure public safety and security.

To be continued…