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Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIP)

No military forces are maintained by the Solomon Islands, although the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIP) of nearly 500 includes a border protection element. The police also have responsibility for fire service, disaster relief, and maritime surveillance. The police force is headed by a commissioner, appointed by the Governor General and responsible to the prime minister. The conclusion of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) signaled a significant transition for Solomon Islands and was a recognition of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force's capability to independently provide law, order and security for Solomon Islands.

The RSIPF is established in and throughout the Solomon Islands for the maintenance and enforcement of law and order, the preservation of peace, the protection of life and property, prevention and detection of crime, apprehension of offenders, upholding the laws of Solomon Islands, maintaining national security, assisting with the service and execution of court processes and orders, maintaining community safety, confidence and support, fire prevention and suppression, land and marine search and rescue, explosive ordinance disposal, assisting in dispute resolution and providing assistance during emergencies.

RSIPF Lata (03)RSIPF Maritime operate two Pacific Class Patrol Boats owned by the RSIPF, the Lata (03) and Auki (04) as well as a range of smaller vessels. The Maritime Department conduct patrols of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Solomon Island borders for fisheries, immigration and national security purposes. Police Commissioner Matthew Varley said on 14 June 2018 that the Australian Defence department will continue to support the Royal Solomon Islands Force Police Maritime.

New patrol boat that will arrive at the end of 2019. Australian Defence will continue to support in terms of operational cost and maintaining of police patrol boats. Varley said the RSIPF with the Solomon Islands Government will also support but the Australian defense program is still continuing. He said the purchase of the new patrol boat will boost the capability of the police maritime, adding that it is a very generous donation from the Australian Government.

Varley said that the new patrol boat will be arriving at the end of 2019 and it will be the replacement of the Patrol Boat Lata. He said that prior to the arrival of the new patrol boat, maritime officers will undergo training and there will also be upgrading of current facilities. This year Patrol Boat Auki is due for an overhaul and will be going over to the Australia. Cost of the repairs and maintenance will be met by the Australian government under the Australian Defence program, Varley said.

“With Solomon Islands’ large maritime border and the presence of unexploded ordnances from the Second World War, the RSIPF is thankful to the continuing assistance under the Australian Defence Program especially the supply and maintenance of patrol boats in the Maritime Division,” Commissioner Varley said. “During the meeting with the Australian Defence Minister, she assured RSIPF that Solomon Islands will receive two new patrol boats to replace the two current ones. The first one will be delivered at the end of 2019 to replace the patrol boat Lata. The second one will be delivered in 2022/2023.”

Commissioner Varley explains: “The new Guardian class of patrol boats will be much larger with increased capacity and extended range compared to the current Pacific class of patrol boats. This will be great especially for patrolling of Solomon Islands large maritime border.... In preparation for the new patrols boats, officers of the RSIPF Maritime Division have started training and the Australian Defence Cooperation Program will also be funding an extension to the current wharf at the Aola Base in Honiara”.

Effective border control is an important part of protecting the sovereignty of the Solomon Islands. RSIPF core responsibilities are providing protection from, and the detection of, the illegal movement of people and goods across the borders of the country. Border control initiatives must be continuously assessed and enhanced to maintain the sovereignty of the Solomon Islands. In 2013 Police Maritime Department reported a total of more than 71 days sea patrols. This included 18 days sea patrols as part of Operation Solvan and 6 days transporting the Prime Minister on an official tour to Malaita Outer Islands.

RSIPF participate in a range of regional surveillance operations with local and international law enforcement agencies. The operations assist in maintaining border security, the protection of natural resources, enhance cooperation with other agencies and countries, and improve skill of RSIPF. The operations give the Solomon Islands access to surveillance resources to which it does not normally have access to. Police Maritime engaged in the operation Rai Balang, it is a joint regional operation conducted by pacific countries in the north. Maritime reported conducting 23 patrols to the EEZ during the year 2013 as part of Operation Solvan, Western Solomon which 15 boarding’s were conducted in order to check on illegal activities and fishing documents as directed by FFA Headquarters.

In 1906 the Protectorate government began focus on the Western Solomon, and establishes government bases, at Gizo in 1899 and in the Shortland Islands in 1906. Each Resident Magistrate had control of their own small police force. The first police in the Protectorate were eight men from Fiji who arrived at Tulagi in late June 1897 as an Armed Constabulary. The Armed Constabulary was expanded under Kings Regulations No. 6, of 19 June 1915, made up of Solomon Islanders. The 1918-1919 Protectorate Annual Report recorded the whole Armed Constabulary at ninety-two men.

By 1929, the Armed Constabulary personnel consisted of two sergeant-majors and 141 other ranks, and there were eleven warders attached to the prison at Tulagi. During the Second World War most of the police, including the heroic Sir Jacob Charles Vouza MBE GM, joined the Solomon Islands Defence Force and many became scouts and Coastwatchers. In the 1940s the police uniform was a khaki sulu, a red cummerbund and black belt, with no shirt or shoes. Before shirts were common apparel (to which rank stripes could be attached), cummerbunds were light blue for corporals, white for sergeants and red and white in the middle of a fairly wide cummerbund for a senior sergeant or station sergeant. The Armed Constabulary was reconstituted in 1945, after World War II.

At the time of Independence in 1976, the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force consisted of John Holloway as Commissioner, Ben Kiriau as Deputy Commissioner, H. Brown as Senior Superintendent, Fredrick Soaki and B.S. Ward as Assistant Superintendents, eighteen Inspectors, seventy Sergeants, 272 Constables, and sixteen administrative staff.

The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) arrived in Solomon Islands on 24 July 2003. RAMSI included the Participating Police Force, working in partnership with the RSIPF to build a modern, effective and independent police force that has the confidence and support of the community.

The initial focus of the RAMSI Participating Police Force (PPF) was on restoring law and order, collecting weapons and arresting suspected criminals. In the first year of RAMSI’s mission, 3700 firearms were removed from communities, including approximately 700 high-powered weapons, and more than 3300 people were arrested, including 50 former militants.

After this initial stabilisation phase, the PPF then turned its focus to rebuilding the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF). The RSIPF had become compromised during the tensions period. In 2003, more than 200 local officers were removed from the RSIPF, with some charged and convicted of criminal offences.

The RAMSI PPF Drawdown Strategy 2013-17 is the overarching document that outlines RAMSI’s current assistance to Solomon Islands. The Strategy provides for four years of planned capacity development assistance for the RSIPF up until 2017. This assistance involves ongoing training and equipment support that aims to develop the RSIPF into a highly effective, modern and professional police force. The Solomon Islands Government Cabinet deliberated on the Drawdown Strategy and endorsed it as the framework governing the delivery of a flexible and comprehensive assistance package. The Strategy identified the need for the PPF to build on the successes of previous capacity development work and continue with this focus.

The PPF stepped back from front-line policing and is instead focusing on continuing its partnership with the RSIPF to progress the organisation into a modern, effective and independent police force. RAMSI wanted the RSIPF to have the full confidence and support of the Solomon Islands community. RAMSI’s capacity development work would allow the RSIPF to independently carry out its mandated functions of maintaining law and order in Solomon Islands. It was vital that Solomon Islands policing function is appropriate and affordable, so that RAMSI can withdraw from the Solomon Islands with its mission a success.

On 29 June 2017 the last RAMSI Special Coordinator, Quinton Devlin delivered his final official address to farewell Solomon Islands at the closing of the RAMSI Farewell celebrations at the Lawson Tama grounds in the capital attended by several thousand people including Pacific Islands Forum Leaders, Solomon Islands government leaders, women, youth and children and other members of the public.

The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) had been implicated of using firearms to advance criminal and ethnic goals during the Tensions period. Because of this, the RSIPF was disarmed as part of RAMSI’s initial actions in 2003 to restore stability to Solomon Islands. After over ten years of extensive capacity development by RAMSI, the RSIPF has become a very different police force. The RSIPF now has greater levels of accountability and disciplinary procedures, and RAMSI is supporting further improvements. In light of this, Solomon Islands Government authorised RAMSI in October 2013 to commence the first phase, of a two-phase project, for the limited reintroduction of firearms to the RSIPF.

Without access to firearms, RSIPF officers are not currently able to enforce the national security interests of Solomon Islands. This includes providing border protection. Solomon Islands Government is also unable to provide full protection to Solomon Islander or foreign dignitaries, who face serious threats to their safety. Under international conventions it is a requirement that all international airports maintain an armed police presence. Without rearmament, the RSIPF will not be able to meet this obligation, which would impact on their ability to have a working international airport.

The RSIPF also need to deal with crocodile destruction on a regular basis. Crocodiles pose a threat to many Solomon Islanders living along the coast or rivers. Without firearms, the RSIPF will not be able to effectively and humanely destroy crocodiles, which would mean higher incidents of crocodile attacks on Solomon Islanders.

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Page last modified: 21-11-2018 12:17:59 ZULU