Police chiefs from 22 Pacific Islands nations are meeting in Queensland this week for the 50th annual conference and talks on tackling cybercrime and child exploitation.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) chief, Reece Kershaw said this Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police (PICP) Conference marks a special occasion for them to celebrate the strength of their partnership.

“As Pacific Leaders, we draw on our commitment to the safety and security of our communities, and protection against threats from crime, environmental impacts and beyond.

“Through collaboration and shared purpose, we look to find opportunities to improve the lives of our Pacific family. But family learns and looks after each other, and I know AFP members who work and live in the Pacific will eventually return to Australia as better members because they have lived and learned the Pacific way of life,” Kershaw said while welcoming Police chiefs from the region.

Fifty years of bringing together all Pacific Police Chiefs to exchange information, learn from each other and form regional partnerships that allow us to combat transnational crime in the Pacific is a significant achievement, he said.

“The AFP is committed to the PICP and our regional security architecture and I look forward to a future that further strengthens this architecture and our collective efforts.

“The Pacific is an increasingly complex environment that faces multifaceted security challenges and a dynamic geopolitical environment. We are currently subject to a range of internal and external threats that have serious implications for our regional peace and stability.

“But despite the commentary about the geopolitics in the region, at the heart of our shared response is acknowledging the fact that the Pacific is your home. It’s where you raise your families, and where you have connection to your land, sea and people.

While our policing agencies cannot effectively respond to, or overcome the current and future challenges alone, through a collaborative and aligned approach and our unified strength we can tackle these challenges “by the Pacific, for the Pacific” Kershaw emphasised.

Reflecting on this year’s theme, Cybercrime: Countering Child Exploitation, an example of effective regional partnerships is the ongoing commitment to regional cyber capability development through the Cyber Safety Pasifika (CSP) programme, he said.

“As the Executive Sponsor for CSP, I thank you for reaffirming this strong partnership by re-signing the CSP Declaration of Partnership.

“As the cyber landscape in our region continues to evolve, so too will the CSP program. The AFP remains committed to delivering the CSP program in an effort to empower our members to educate their communities on how to remain safe online and ensure those who seek to do us harm are held to account,” Kershaw.

This week, the police chiefs will be hosted for a tour of AFP facilities in Brisbane, including the Australian Centre to Combat Child Exploitation (ACCCE) and a public order management display by Specialist Protective Command members at AFP training facility in Pinkenba.

“The ACCCE provides a collaborative national response to online child exploitation, bringing together experts from law enforcement, government, non-government organisations, industry, and academia.

“The ACCCE shares and coordinates research, resources, intelligence and information, drives future capabilities and technologies, and provides consistent approaches to education and prevention efforts to support Australian law enforcement to remove children from harm, and prosecute offenders” said Kershaw.

He said last year the Australian Government agreed to invest additional funds to increase their support to their partners in the Pacific, resulting in the creation of the AFP Pacific Police Partnership Programme, known as the AP4.

“The AP4 provides an uplift to AFP capabilities, providing the resources to maintain our current Pacific police partnerships, bolster existing relationships and strengthen our security threat prevention efforts within the Pacific region.

“This strategic initiative has allowed the AFP to establish the Law Enforcement Cooperation Programme (LECP), a capability fund that aims to strengthen the capability of Pacific Police and law enforcement agencies through provision of specialist policing training, equipment and education,” Kershaw said.

Kershaw said LECP will foster closer personal and institutional linkages bilaterally and regionally while also establishing an enhanced capacity to meet priorities and more effectively cooperate to fight transnational crime.

“I want to reiterate the importance of the PICP conference, our international partnerships and acknowledge the outstanding work that you all do to protect our communities and our Pacific family. Our regional partnership is an extremely important one and I look forward to continuing our collaboration into the future,” said Kershaw.