The Participating Police Force of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI PPF) will draw down from the Malaita Provincial capital Auki on 18 September, twelve years after setting up post to assist the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) maintain law and order in that province.
Auki was the first provincial centre in which the RAMSI PPF established a presence after the Mission arrived in Solomon Islands in 2003. At one point the PPF had also established posts at Malu’u and Atori stations.
The departure of PPF from Auki is part of the overall RAMSI Drawdown Strategy 2013 – 2017, agreed on with the Solomon Islands Government and the RSIPF in 2013.
Since 2011, RAMSI has been gradually withdrawing its presence at provincial police posts and stations throughout Solomon Islands as the RSIPF has taken control of frontline policing in the country.
Speaking at an information session organised at Auki on 16 September to explain the drawdown of the PPF, Commander of the PPF, Greg Harrigan said that the decision to leave Auki was made following consideration of several factors.
“RAMSI has recently completed a new police station at Auki, the new Provincial Police Commander at Auki is providing excellent leadership for the team there, and the PPF has provided resources and capacity training to RSIPF officers stationed at Auki for many years,” said Mr Harrigan.
“The RSIPF in Malaita is now at the point where it has proven that it can maintain law and order without frontline policing assistance from PPF.”
“But while the physical PPF presence is withdrawing from Auki, we will continue to support the RSIPF here through our provincial police mentoring program,” said Mr Harrigan.
“This will involve regular station visits from PPF mentors who will continue to support the Provincial Police Commander and develop the cadre of high-quality police officers stationed throughout the province,” explained Commander Harrigan.
The PPF Commander thanked the Premier, current and past Malaita provincial governments, community leaders and the people of that province for their hospitality and cooperation in the 12 years that RAMSI has maintained a presence there.
“I am confident that all the people of Malaita will continue to cooperate and support the RSIPF, as the force now has the leading role in providing security for the country including in Malaita province.”
During the information session, the Commissioner of RSIPF, Mr Frank Prendergast and the Malaita Provincial Premier, Hon. Peter Ramohia thanked the RAMSI PPF for its assistance over the past 12 years.
“I wish to sincerely thank the RAMSI Participating Police Force for its assistance towards the police in Malaita Province over the past 12 years,” said RSIPF Commissioner, Mr Prendergast.
Mr Prendergast said: “The RSIPF is now capable of delivering services to the people of Solomon Islands without much support as was proven during the successful security operations surrounding the 2014 National General Elections.”
“That being said the RSIPF recognises that we need to continue to strive to improve our ability to serve the people of the Solomon Islands including areas such as leadership, accountability and responsiveness. As part of this focus on improvement the RSIPF has committed to the development and implementation of a crime prevention model that will be the foundation on how the RSIPF delivers policing services in the future. To successfully implement this approach we need to work together with communities in Malaita and the rest of the country to understand your problems and work with you to address these problems.”
RSIPF Commissioner, Mr Prendergast also thanked the Premier, Hon. Ramohia and his provincial government for the assistance towards the work of the police in Malaita Province.
Speaking at the information session on the drawdown of PPF from Auki, Premier of Malaita Province, Hon. Peter Ramohia said RAMSI leaving Malaita Province is a sad thing but it should be seen as a positive thing.
“Different people may have different views and may draw different conclusions on this but one thing that is clear is that RAMSI has accomplished most if not all of its goals for Malaita. This includes important infrastructures as the new police station at Auki and the Correctional Services complex,” said Premier Ramohia.
Premier Ramohia added: “The positive achievement is also reflected through the high standard of performance and professionalism shown by our RSIPF officers in Auki.
“The best way to thank RAMSI for what it has done for the RSIPF in Malaita is to make sure we take good care of the infrastructures and other equipment and facilities provided to us.”
“I call on the RSIPF officers at Auki to continue your high standard of performance as a result of the trainings and support received from RAMSI. I also call on all the good people of Malaita to continue to support our RSIPF in their work and especially ensuring that infrastructures and facilities provided to our police force are well looked after and protected,” Premier Ramohia said.
Speaking on behalf of the RAMSI Special Coordinator, the RAMSI Assistant Special Coordinator, Mr Masi Lomaloma said, “despite the withdrawal of the PPF from Malaita the PPF will nonetheless continue to support the RSIPF in Malaita through its provincial police mentoring program. This will ensure that the police in Malaita Province will continue to receive the support they need, to maintain stability and enforce law and order into the future.”
Mr Lomaloma added: “The withdrawal of the PPF from Auki marks a new chapter for Malaita, the RSIPF and Solomon Islands. The RSIPF are very proud that they are now in a position to independently manage security across the Province.
“At the same time, the police are also very alert to the challenges that they face, which include resourcing and logistics. RAMSI will continue to work with the Provincial Government, the RSIPF executive and the National Government, to address these challenges and to align more closely the RSIPF’s resourcing with community expectations.”
The information session was attended by representatives of the Malaita Provincial Government, heads of Government Ministries in Auki, school principals, village chiefs, church pastors, women leaders, youth leaders, representatives of business houses and non-government organisations in and around Auki township.