An allegation of police ill-discipline involving an assault on a person in police custody.
Today’s edition of the Island Sun newspaper carried a headline story which read, “Young man fighting for life after bashed up by officers while in custody.”
The same article went on to allege, quote:
“A young man is in critical condition and lucky to be alive after being beaten up early Saturday morning by police.
“Witnesses and the victim have confirmed the officers to be members of the Central Response Unit, a group within the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSPIF) set up to deal with ‘less lethal situations.”
I believe it is vitally important for the acting police commissioner to look into the serious allegations and I feel confident that he will.
It goes without saying the police must have the respect and trust of the public and any breach of discipline must be dealt with at the soonest opportunity.
When I held the post of Commissioner of Police in the Solomon Islands from July 1997 to July 1999 I took a very tough stance on ill-discipline and always suspended any officer charged with a criminal offence to be immediately suspended on-half pay until the outcome of the court case.
If a police officer was found guilty before the court of a criminal offence he was invariably recommended for dismissal from the police service.
Police officers found to have broken the code of conduct expected of them by way of Police Standing Orders and Code of Conduct were always investigated and punished if guilty, including in some instances, by a reduction in rank or reprimands.
In 1997, I issued to the Force a document titled the ‘Royal Solomon Islands Police Service Purpose and Direction.’ I said this in the introduction to that document, quote.
‘The Royal Solomon Islands Police Service, like many other police services throughout the world, is operating in a rapidly changing environment. To meet the resulting challenges. We need to ensure that we have the ability to successfully assess and predict the impact of such changes on the profession of policing and the provision of community policing.
“Defining responses to change in the environment are critical to the success of our Service. The sped of change in the environment is such that anything other than a planned response will prove unsuccessful and, more important, unacceptable to the community and the Government.
The purpose of this paper is to provide the strategic direction of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Service though a clear definition of:
+ The Mission of the Service, which states why we exist – our fundamental reason for being:
+ the core functions of the Service – which defines what business we are in:
+ our strategic intentions, which describe the future style and direction of our organization and which define a framework within which our programmes and plans can be developed and implemented, and
+ the statement of Common Values, which make explicit the shared organizational beliefs which govern the work practices, decision making and behavior of our people.
“The Corporate Vision does not define detailed strategies for implementation, but instead aims to provide direction for each member of the organization to set priorities and define activities and action plans that will contribute to the collective achievement of our Mission. It represents a charter which people at all levels can use in fulfilling their responsibilities.
“In essence the Corporate Vision is a vehicle for conveying the core values, the key functions and the future direction of the organization to its various stakeholders. The communication of this information to potential strategic allies and partners is essential.
“This document is a clear statement of the purpose, direction and style of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Service; it is a blueprint for providing better policing services to all the people of the Solomon Islands.”.
The Purpose and Direction document I supplemented with orders published in Force Orders and this particular order is relevant when I read today of the serious allegations I have recounted were published in the Island Sun newspaper.
“Accountability of the Police Service.
“I believe it is the duty of all police officers to cultivate good relations with all sections of the community for it should be remembered that if good relations do not exist, the members of the police service have to work under a severe handicap and their efficiency is impaired.
“A police officer is often required to exercise firmness, and sometimes has to resort to force in the execution of his or her duty. Firmness must always be tempered by tact, patience and good humour ad any force used must be the minimum necessary to secure compliance with the law.
“Harsh or oppressive conduct, incivility or the use of unnecessary force can never be justified or tolerated and are punishable offences against discipline.
“I seek to encourage the members of the police service to always be alert and observant, but good humoured, discreet but friendly and, above all, to be scrupulously fair and impartial in dealing with the public.
“Behaviour, which is unprofessional and unacceptable, will always be effectively and publically condemned by the police leadership under my command.”