Officers of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) and the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) conducted community outreach sessions during last week’s Roviana Lagoon Festival in Munda, Western Province, from 13 to 16 December 2016.
Community Policing Officers at the Munda and Noro Police stations conducted talks on issues ranging from kwaso, marijuana and alcohol abuse, family violence and the RSIPF Crime Prevention Strategy, while RAMSI’s Public Affairs and Media Manager, Johnson Honimae, presented on the preparations for RAMSI’s exit on 30 June 2017 and the post-RAMSI arrangements.
“Based on the feedback received during the public sessions, both at the Festival venue at Lambete, the temporary market set up in Munda, and from workers of the National Fisheries Development (NFD) and Soltuna at Noro, there was widespread appreciation of the work that RAMSI has done to return law and order to Solomon Islands over the past 13 years and the improvements within the RSIPF compared to when the Mission arrived in 2003,” said Mr Honimae.
RAMSI’s Public Affairs and Media Manager, Mr Honimae said: “People appreciated the training that RAMSI has given to members of the RSIPF over the years the Mission has been in the country and they encouraged the police to apply the training in the communities they work. They acknowledged the performance of the police had improved dramatically, but at the same time, urged police officers to uphold the high ethical standards set by the RSIPF and said public respect for the police was directly linked to how police officers behaved in and out of their uniforms”.
Community members also welcomed the recently enacted Family Protection Act, with many observing that parents should take the lead in showing a good example as they bring up their families. Children will copy what they see in their family when growing up and when they become parents.
Some participants also expressed concern about the number of liquor licences issued in the Munda township and the impact of alcohol abuse on the community. Others praised the Munda police for their efforts to stop kwaso production and sales.
The 2016 Roviana Lagoon Festival, which adopted the theme of “Celebrating People, Culture and Environment”, included events such as traditional cooking, canoe races, fishing competition, swimming races, tomoko (war canoe) displays and a bamboo band competition. It attracted large crowds from the islands within the Roviana Lagoon, as well as Munda and Noro townships. The Festival, which has become an annual event, is supported by the NFD and Soltuna companies, as well as other corporate sponsors.
The community outreach during the Roviana Lagoon Festival was part of a joint SIG-RAMSI communication strategy to explain the preparations being made for RAMSI’s conclusion in June 2017. RAMSI will continue to work together with RSIPF Community Policing units in the provinces during the coming months to help communities build confidence in the local police as RAMSI prepares to leave.