Participating Police Force (PPF)
The Participating Police Force (PPF) was deployed to the Solomon Islands as part of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), with the intention of restoring law and order and strengthening and reforming the Solomon Islands Police Force.
The PPF includes police from 13 member states of the Pacific Islands Forum, deployed to Solomon Islands under Operation Helpem Fren, from July 2003. However the PPF has always been commanded by an officer of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), who is also sworn in as the Deputy Commissioner of the Solomon Islands Police Force (SIPF).
After the initial stabilisation phase in 2003-04, involving the disarming of militias and stabilising law and order, the PPF is currently engaged in strengthening the SIPF, and is deployed to every province of the Solomon Islands through a network of police posts. The PPF also has indirect involvement in the reform and development of the Solomon Islands Prison Service, in consultation with GRM International, the private contracting company that manages Rove Prison and other facilities in Honiara.
As of July 2007, the PPF was made up of 308 police officers, of which 215 are Australian (69.8 per cent). Although the largest contingents of officers come from federal and state police in Australia, followed by New Zealand, all members of the Pacific Island Forum have contributed police officers to the PPF since the initial deployment. Logistic and security support is provided by a Combined Task Force of military personnel from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Tonga.
AFP helps celebrate a new future for Solomon Islands, AFP Media release, 23 July 2004
“On 24 July 2003 the first Hercules touched down in Solomon Islands marking the beginning of an Australian government initiative which would bring about a new environment of good governance and economic stability. [In July 2004] the Participating Police Force involves officers from Australia (208) and eight other pacific nations – New Zealand (35), Cook Islands (2), Samoa (10), Fiji (15), Tonga (12), Kiribati (5), Vanuatu (12), and Nauru (3).”
AFP celebrates RAMSI Anniversary, AFP Media release, 22 July 2005
“The AFP lead law enforcement operation commenced in the Solomon Islands on 24 July 2003….The second anniversary sees the Participating Police Force (PPF) in its third phase with emphasis on training and capacity development of the Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIP).
“The PPF involves officers from Australia (294) and ten other Pacific nations – New Zealand (31), Cook Islands (2), Samoa (9), Fiji (13), Tonga (12), Kiribati (5), Vanuatu (5), Nauru (4), Papua New Guinea (10) and Tuvalu (2).”
Solomon Islands (RAMSI), AFP website
“RAMSI Participating Police Force (PPF) is in Phase 4 and 5 of the planned 10 Phase engagement. Phase 1 involved direct intervention to stabilise the law and order environment of the Solomon Islands, while Phase 2 involved sustaining the outcomes of Phase 1. Phases 3 onwards are involved with the capacity building of the SIPF.
“Since the commencement of RAMSI, in excess of 3700 weapons have been seized and over 7000 arrests have been made. The SIPF has commenced taking the lead in policing operations with the PPF in a support role. This is a solid indication of the success in capacity building the SIPF.
“Currently there are approximately 450 members deployed to the PPF in the Solomon Islands comprising of AFP, Australian State Police, New Zealand Police and policing personnel of thirteen Pacific Nations. This is part of a Whole of Government approach to maintain law and order, strengthen the criminal justice system and support peace building. The PPF in mission play a significant role in the capacity building of the SIPF, as well as actively engaging in various community projects and activities.”
AFP reply to Questions on notice, Senate inquiry into Australia’s involvement in Peacekeeping Operations, 2007
“As at 23 July 2007, the Australian contribution to the Participating Police Force (PPF) in the Solomon Islands is 69.8 % (Australia provides 215 staff and participating Pacific Island police services provide 93 staff – total 308).”
Pacific Islands Forum contingents
Details of the PPF contingents and their commanding officers include:
- New Zealand
- Cook Islands
- Federated States of Micronesia
- Marshall Islands
- Papua New Guinea
Commentary and analysis
Helping a friend, Lieutenant Colonel John Hutcheson, Australian Army Journal, Vol.2 No.2, p47
Relations between the PPF and Australian Defence Forces in Solomon Islands have not always been smooth. The ADF Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force 635 in the Solomon Islands during 2004, Lieutenant Colonel John Hutcheson, critiqued military-police co-operation, raising “a number of issues in relation to the conduct of operations that need to be carefully considered in planning for future inter-agency operations.”
“A number of the military activities conducted in support of the PPF in the Solomon Islands mission demonstrated that significant differences existed in the planning methodologies and descriptive language that each agency employed…As a result, the police approach led to many short-notice requests for military support, an inability to prioritise tasks (and assets) to achieve a particular outcome and a tendency to take inadequate force protection measures.”
“PPF and CJTF personnel were able to work together at the tactical level in order to maximise their respective capabilities. There were, however, cultural distinctions between the PPF and the CJTF that created a number of psychological barriers. A major difference between police and military culture resides in the former’s eight hour day shift mentality and the latter’s 24/7 (twenty four hours, seven days a week) focus.”
Rebuilding a Police Service – Restoring Law and Order: An Overview of the Activities of the Participating Police Force in the Solomon Islands, Will Jamieson, Former PPF Commander, SSGM seminar, ANU, 15 November 2007
“This paper will focus upon the challenges faced and strategies adopted by the Participating Police Force (PPF) in order to meet stakeholder expectations in rebuilding the Solomon Islands Police Force (SIPF) as an arm of government within a framework of governance….The PPF, the policing component of RAMSI operates under the Law and Justice Sector and is integral to the holistic approach of RAMSI. This blending I feel makes RAMSI unique in the peace keeping and development worlds.”
RAMSI – the challenges ahead, Mary Louise O’Callaghan, presentation to workshop “Solomon Islands: Where to now?” Australian National University, 5 May 2006
The April 2006 riot in Honiara led to criticism of the PPF and its failure to address core issues of policing. Following the riots, a former RAMSI adviser and long-time Solomon Islands resident was sharply critical of the capacity of the AFP members of the PPF.
Transnational Police Building: critical lessons from Timor- Leste and Solomon Islands, Andrew Goldsmith and Sinclair Dinnen, Third World Quarterly, Vol. 28, No.6, 2007, pp 1092, 1101
“Despite Australia’s major role in assisting local police, since April 2006 there has been significant civil strife, public order breakdown and political turmoil in both countries. These events provide reason to reassess the adequacy of externally led efforts to ‘build police forces’. Moreover, they cast doubt upon the efficacy of current institutional ‘lessons learned’ approaches popular among donor governments and agencies. These case studies are used to advance our key thesis: most police-building exercises flounder or fail because of their narrow technical focus and of an inadequate understanding of the environmental and political contexts in which they occur.
“[…..In Solomon Islands] as in Timor-Leste, it would appear a point is quickly reached after the restoration of basic order when the continued external presence in the capacity-building phase begins to register in the local political situation in varied, and often unmanageable, ways. It is with the return of relative calm that contestations over the form and direction of state building and its police- building component emerge locally, even to the extent of threatening the entire enterprise itself.”
Policebuilding: The International Deployment Group in the Solomon Islands, Gordon Peake and Kaysie Studdard Brown, International Peacekeeping, Vol.12, No.4, Winter 2005, pp.521
“Many Solomon Islanders speak English, but steps should be taken to prepare for missions to places where there is no lingua franca. A successful strategy taken to reduce this gap in the Solomon Islands has been to include officers from jurisdictions with closer linguistic and cultural links to their environment – officers from other Pacific islands. Although not numerically significant, and peripheral in terms of leadership, the other regional officers brought doctrines, approaches and policing styles more closely aligned with Melanesian culture, and have thus added a great deal to the mission. Greater familiarity with cultural codes and mores, together with an ability to converse in Solomon Islands’ pidgin, have helped to bridge the gap between the ‘international police’ and their local counterparts.”