New Police Act 2013 officially launched

The new Police Act 2013 has been officially launched today after it came into effect on 1 March 2014.

Launching the new Police Act at the Royal Solomon Islands Police Headquarters in Rove, Honiara, the Minister for Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Hon Chris Laore said the “gazetting of the Police Act and Police Regulations reflects the continued commitment from the Solomon Islands Government to the ongoing development and modernisation of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.”

“The Solomon Islands Government expects the RSIPF to provide a professional policing service to the people of Solomon Islands and the Police Regulations provide a modern framework to provide that service,” said Hon. Laore

Minister Laore explained: “The Police Act addresses a number of important functions including governance, employment, police powers, offences, conduct and discipline. A Code of Conduct has been prescribed within the Police Regulations and members of the RSIPF are expected to comply with the Code of Conduct in delivering an accountable police service.”

“I am confident that the Police Act and Regulations will strengthen the operational capability of the RSIPF to maintain law and order and ensure community safety and build community trust and confidence in the RSIPF.”

Minister Laore acknowledged assistance from the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) Office of the Special Coordinator, the RAMSI Participating Police Force (PPF); legal consultant, Ms Pamela Wilde; staff of his Ministry, people throughout the country who contributed their views during the wide community consultation on the Act and other stakeholders for the work and support that was rendered towards successful completion of the Police Act project.

RAMSI Special Coordinator, Ms Justine Braithwaite said during the launch of the Police Act that, “ one of RAMSI’s primary objectives is to help the RSIPF maintain law and order with a view to promoting long-lasting peace and stability in Solomon Islands. I’m proud to say that the launch of the new Police Act today is a significant milestone towards the realisation of that objective.”

Ms Braithwaite explained: “The new Police Act enables the RSIPF to implement the newly developed model of policing aimed at transforming itself into a modern, effective and accountable Force. The Act also provides police officers with the necessary and appropriate legal powers to carry out their daily policing functions.”

Ms Braithwaite said: “ In preparation for when RAMSI eventually leaves Solomon Islands, the PPF in consultation with the RSIPF, the Ministry of Police National Security and Correctional Services, and other key stakeholders has developed a Drawdown Strategy covering the period 2013-2017.

“Part of this drawdown strategy is the implementation of a Solomon Islands Government Cabinet Decision to prepare the RSIPF for the future limited – and I stress the word limited – reintroduction of firearms. This means that not all members of the RSIPF will be armed. RAMSI is assisting with the preparatory work needed to train and equip those few officers, prepare the governance and accountability arrangements, and build secure armouries.

“It’s important to point out that the legal basis for the limited rearmament of the RSIPF is provided for in this new Police Act,” said Ms Brathwaite

The RAMSI Special Coordinator explained: “The RSIPF has developed a less lethal capability. But without a limited lethal force capability the RSIPF will never be able to operate independently as a law enforcement agency. Front-line RSIPF officers will not be able to protect communities, defend themselves against violent armed offenders, or properly police Solomon Islands’ borders.

“I want to assure you all that the rearmament process of the RSIPF will be closely scrutinised and monitored in stages. Community engagement across provinces will be a critical part of the preparations. And no officer of the RSIPF will carry firearms until the Solomon Islands Government has the confidence that the force is ready, and approves this,” the RAMSI Special Coordinator said.

Acting RSIPF Commissioner, Ms Juanita Matanga, who hosted the Police Act launch ceremony urged all rank and file within the Force to “read and become acquainted with the Act as what is expected of them is stipulated in the legislation and the new Police Regulations.”

The RAMSI PPF Commander Mr Greg Harrigan who also attended the launch ceremony stated: “The new Police Act clarifies police functions, powers and responsibilities and provides police officers with the powers required to carry out policing functions. The new legislation includes disciplinary processes and a Code of Conduct which will further enhance the professionalization of the RSIPF through accountability. The PPF will continue to support the RSIPF in the development of Commissioners Orders and relevant policies to support the revised Act and Regulations.”

Copies of the new Police Act were blessed by Bishop Johnny Kuper, Vicar General of the Church of Melanesia.