Commissioner of Police, ,Mostyn Mangau

About 300 foreign personnel will be deployed to Solomon Islands to support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force provide security at next month’s joint elections.

Commissioner of Police Mostyn Mangau said under existing security arrangements with regional countries, around 300 officers will be in Honiara.

They come from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji under the Solomons International Assistance Force (SIAF) and RSIPF’s bilateral agreement with PNG with the support of Chinese police who are already on the ground.

Domestically, there will also be additional officers from the Correctional Services.

Mangau confirmed that these officers (regional) will be armed as provided for under the agreements which they will be engaged under.

He said the challenge is there will be both national and provincial elections held at the same time so it would require a lot of manpower.

Mangau also revealed that members of the regional contingent will also be deployed to the provinces to support RSIPF’s operations.

Meanwhile, over the past three weeks over 100 Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) Officers participated in training delivered by the Australian Defence Force as part of Exercise Coastwatchers 24-1.

The jointly-designed courses included Orders Preparation, Low Risk Search, Small Boats Maintenance, Small Boats Handling and Border Surveillance.

The Exercise concluded with a culminating activity where RSIPF teams conducted a training mission involving illegal smuggling activities. During the activity, teams set up observation points to detect illegal activity and collect evidence for police investigators. They then coordinated the arrest of the smugglers utilising support from the RSIPF Drone Support Unit.

Speaking at the end of Exercise function at the Rove Police Headquarters, Assistant Commissioner National Operations, Evelyn Thugea, said this year’s Exercise Coastwatchers formed a crucial part of the RSIPF’s preparation ahead of the National General Election and ongoing Solomon Islands – Papua New Guinea Border Operations.

“The RSIPF greatly values the training provided under Exercise Coastwatchers. Participants have come away with increased capability in border operations, water mobility and public safety. These are crucial skills for our everyday work, but are also vital ahead of the RSIPF National General Election operation,” Assistant Commissioner Thugea said.

Director National Respond Department (NRD) Superintendent Lionel Kapisa said that while it was a busy time for the RSIPF, the training under Exercise Coastwatchers was prioritised as it provided crucial capability.

Superintendent Kapisa said RSIPF officers were already implementing the skills learned during the Exercise on the front-line.

Colonel Bywater, Australian Defence Adviser for the Solomon Islands, said Exercise Coastwatchers was Australia and the Solomon Islands’ premier bilateral exercise.