Training of Solomon Islands Police Force
A central mission of the Participating Police Force (PPF) deployed under the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) is to strengthen and train the Solomon Islands Police Force (SIPF).
Previously known as the Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIP), the police force was compromised during and after the conflict of 1998-2003, when many former militia members were recruited as Special Constables in the late 1990s, and police force members were involved in criminal and corrupt activities.
Rove Barracks to be replaced under new RAMSI – NZ Police Housing Project, RAMSI media release, 6 November, 2008
“Thirty four new houses for police families will soon be replacing the current police barracks at Rove and other priority locations in the provinces as part of the new RAMSI – NZAID Police Housing Project launched today.”
RAMSI Says No Firearms Training for SIPF, RAMSI media release, 6 June 2008
“RAMSI is not providing firearms training to the Solomon Islands Police Force (SIPF), the Acting Special Coordinator of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, Jonathan Austin, said today. Dr Austin said RAMSI’s position on rearmament has not changed.
“ ‘RAMSI does not support the rearmament of the SIPF at this time. We are not training the SIPF in firearms. Prime Minister Dr Sikua has said ‘no’ to rearming and we fully respect and support that decision,’ Dr Austin said. Dr Austin said recent claims by the Leader of the Opposition, Manasseh Sogavare, that RAMSI’s Participating Police Force (PPF) has been providing firearms training to members of the SIPF were simply untrue.
“’RAMSI can give the community an absolute assurance that RAMSI is not doing any firearms training of the SIPF.…Since 2005 the central aim of the RAMSI PPF has been training and capacity building the SIPF in all aspects of modern policing. This has included members of the Prime Minister’s Close Personal Protection team who have undertaken a specially designed training program adapted to the needs of the Solomon Islands including: driving, emergency actions, close personal protection drills, planning and searching techniques but not firearms training or any kind of use of firearms.”
Building a Better Police Force, Media release, RAMSI website, 2 September 2007
“Solomon Islands officers and their RAMSI counterparts are learning how they can better work together in their efforts to rebuild the nation. Nearly 40 participants from across different areas of the Solomon Islands-RAMSI partnership are attending a series of capacity development workshops called ‘Making a Difference’.”
Training of Solomon Islands Police Force by RAMSI, Questions on notice, Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Question 122, 31 October 2006
“Since its inception in July 2003, RAMSI, primarily through the Participating Police Force (PPF), has assisted the Solomon Islands Police Force (SIPF) in training a total of 187 new recruits. The following tables highlight the breakdown of new recruits for each calander year…and training courses undertaken by SIPF members since the arrival of RAMSI in July 2003.”
Prime Minister opens new AFP International Training Complex, AFP Media release, 23 June 2005
“AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty said ‘The AFP has been participating in peacekeeping and regional support missions for more than 40 years. In recent years we have seen the benefits of a collaborative approach in helping to restore law and order in the Royal Solomon Islands and working with the Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIP) to enhance capacity and achieve long-term law enforcement objectives. The success of missions like RAMSI relies on the delivery of first class pre-deployment training which has led to the development of this new facility.’ “
Commentary and analysis
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
“Rebuilding the RSIP is a slow and complex task, Moving from peace-keeping and stabilisation to capacity development demands different skill sets and time frames, Finding personnel with the appropriate skills and personal qualities remains a challenge despite the AFP’s international experience and its dedicated and well resourced International Deployment Group, Maintaining the strong relationships necessary for effective capacity development has been difficult given the relatively short deployment cycles of international personnel. Differences in cultural backgrounds and professional attitudes between RSIP and Australian personnel have also been obstacles. Three years after the initial deployment the Australian RSIP Commissioner acknowledged that his force remained ‘inadequately prepared and is still not properly equipped to perform the vast majority of policing functions throughout the Solomon Islands’ (quoted in the Solomon Star, 19 May 2006).”
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
“In terms of the first goal, RAMSI and the police merit high marks. Generally speaking, basic law and order has been restored to the island archipelago that had been in danger of slipping into the pantheon of failed states in the South Pacific’s ‘arc of instability’….In terms of the much more difficult second goal – building a new service from the ashes of the old and instilling public trust in it – the record is patchier. Although still too early to make a long-term prognosis, and with the pace of ongoing events complicating the task of evaluation, transferring authority to, and developing capacity in, the RSIP has proved more difficult. Australian police are confronting both a sceptical and resistant national police institution and a public seared by memories of recent past practice that is reluctant to invest trust and legitimacy in it. Achieving adequate training and equipment for police officers, (re)-establishing an accountable and rights-respecting institution complete with functioning managerial structures and systems, and operating as part of a wider rule-of-law fabric remains a work in progress.
“Australian officers schooled in a world of systems, reviews and reports express frustration when RSIP officers do not operate in a similar system and cannot quickly become used to such styles. Impatient with the pace of involvement and quality of RSIP work, Australian officers often take on the tasks themselves …The IDG’s approach underestimates the difference in operational cultures and the capacity of an organization to absorb change. The RSIP has been expected to accommodate a bewildering array of new practices in an extremely short time: the rigour of the external actors has flooded an unprepared organization with a deluge of unfamiliar approaches, methods and strategies, largely without RSIP engagement….The sheer scale of RAMSI and the well- intentioned desire on the part of the PPF to implant ‘professional practice’ quickly could, paradoxically, serve to undermine the institutions it is trying to build up. The failure of this policing blitzkrieg should cause concern for the IDG. Immersion has not worked; it risks overwhelming RSIP officers and generating resistance and resentment to change.”