The year 2023 is set to be the 'Year of Law and Order Reform,' as announced by the National Government and supported through the new fully funded Police Reform and Enhancement Program 2023 to 2026. As the RPNGC Executive works hard to transform the Police Force into the organisation that PNG needs and expects, I hope every Papua New Guinean will join with us as we lead change.
The Government's renewed focus on improving Law and Order is being met with relief among Papua New Guineans around our country. But considering past decades of neglect and limited funding provided to Police, I also know that some announcements will be met with scepticism as well. We recognise the shortcomings of the past, and now with the support of the Government committing a record budget for Law and Order, we will experience positive change. I call on our people, businesses and community groups, to channel any sceptical energy into working together to bring about the change
we have envisaged. Your support, working with the RPNGC, particularly at a local level, will deliver beneficial outcomes for our families, clans, and communities. This will enhance the preservation of order and peace, and the rejection of criminals and criminal ways. When we prevent crime, tangible socio-economic benefits are experienced, compared to the decline we have seen in the past.
My intent in 2023 is to provide every Papua New Guinean visible indicators that Policing services are being delivered more effectively. Disciplined Police personnel, that are wellpresented and organised, using modern technology that provides greater efficiencies, have increased accountability, and most importantly improve police responses.
National Police Headquarters will drive accountability and integrity from the top down to every police officer. This includes Police Stations across PNG holding a monthly parade where Commanders will assess presentation and attendance, and reinforce discipline and professionalism expectations with frontline Police.
The RPNGC is working with strategic partners to stand-up emergency and general inquiry helplines in every Provincial Command. National Police Headquarters will monitor the frequency of calls and continue to enhance responses with local Police Commanders.
Overall, public accountability must be every Police Commander's top priority as compliance will be observed and performance managed.
Leadership from the Top to the Rank and File
The RPNGC Executive Management Team (EMT) is tasked with monitoring and assess trends in criminal activity, police response times, investigations and prosecutions. The EMT works with government and strategic partners in identifying areas where improvement is needed and address matters that require additional support for enhancing capacity including:
• The recruitment of capable personnel with a true sense of National duty in their hearts;
• ICT infrastructure upgrades to enhance policing capabilities;
• Infrastructure redevelopment including police accommodation across PNG;
• Training and development through all RPNGC ranks, focusing on executive capabilities and rank and file performance;
• Policy and legislation reform to empower police to more effectively investigate crimes and engage with the Office of the Public Prosecutor;
• Empowering criminal and internal affairs investigations through improved processes and accountability;
• Partnering with international law enforcement agencies to detect and disrupt criminal syndicates within PNG and abroad; and,
• Working with Correctional Services to better integrate released prisoners into communities and prevent re-offending.
Improved Recruitment, Training and Performance Rewards for Police
The independent True Costs of Policing Study noted that both the methods used to select Police recruits, and the ongoing development of core policing skills and refresher training, are critical for transforming policing in PNG. Entry standards for recruitment into the Police Force are higher today than in the past forty years, and no longer is it the case that once police leave basic training that is the end of their training. Skills development is now to be regular and ongoing.
Over the coming months, the recruitment of 500 new Police personnel will take place. This includes 30 to be posted to the Bougainville Police Service. and the selection of 60 Officer Cadets. These Police recruits will complete training at the Police Training College of Excellence at Bomana, and in order to graduate they will have to meet a higher level of achievement than in the past. Recruits are being selected through an impartial modern recruitment process to identify the best and the brightest, who are willing to make a true commitment to serve our Nation.
In our planning for 2023, and In the formulation of the National Budget.achieving what is called a 'Discipline Dividend was a priority for the RPNGC. From 2023, the RPNGC will incentives better performances and improve the costefficiency of Police operations.
As the RPNGC drives investment In our workforce, as part of standard operating procedures, and progressively removing morale disincentives, staff performances will be more closely monitored and more effectively managed.
Reforms include the return of meaningful community policing and the activation of more effective strategies to overcome disconnects between police personnel and local communities.
This will see more Police walking the streets of our communities where they can play a more proactive part In maintaining safety and social harmony.This is particularly relevant to interaction with people or groups who are at risk of committing offences, and where early police intervention and relationship building can precent crimes from being committed. This is critical for addressing communitybased conflicts that contribute to an increased level of criminal activities as well as genderbased violence. Working with community leaders, police commands at local levels are able to make community partnership policing operational and functional.
The Prime Minister has also announced that youth, particularly those who are homeless or in dire social situations, will be encouraged to participate in skills training offered through Correctional Services institutions.
Strategic Partner and Stakeholder Engagement
Growing and improving the Police Force requires substantial professional support, and the RPNGC and National Government is engaging with stakeholders for technical assistance, logistical support and community engagement. The RPNGC Corporate Plan 2021-2030 recognises that there is much to
gain through collaboration with global and National strategic partners to this end. Following extensive recent international bilateral discussions, the RPNGC is welcoming complementary support through partnership from multi-lateral organisations. foreign governments, international law enforcement agencies and the private sector.
A significant change now is that our partners are listening to us, and our views on our requirements, as opposed to simply imposing aid that might not be needed as was the practice in the past.
At the domestic Leve~ our Church and FaithBased Organisations and other community groups are the backbones of communities, and provide a window to the social wellbeing of people at all levels. As part of increased Community Policing priorities, we are expanding our interaction with congregations, particularly in building relationships and trust with our youths. Businesses, NGOs and other Government agencies all have a valuable contribution to make In enhancing community safety through partnership.
Across PNG this engagement will help to introduce service deliverables that include:
• Improved support provided to survivors of family sexual violence and sorcery accusation related violence;
• Increased policing presence in disadvantaged urban areas through to rural communities;
• Increased surveillance and expanding current CCTV capacity in Urban centres;
• Increased traffic patrols on streets and highways to enhance the safety of motorists and PMV passengers;
• Increased awareness and the prevention of driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs;
• Re-fleeting to provide an additional 150 Police vehicles during 2023, and put an end to money being wasted spending on hire cars; and,
• Expanding the use of force options available to frontline police such as batons, handcuffs and non-lethal ammunition with appropriatemonitoring and compliance.
The RPNGC is establishing the Strategic Partnership Engagement Unit that will be the contact point for engagement with strategic partners.
Development of Trained and Accountable Police Reservists
The organisational model for delivering policing services needed in our communities across PNG, be they remote, rural or urban, draws on the support of a Reservist Policing component. This will be a marked Improvement from the reservist structure of the past, that was for the most part disbanded due to inadequate training, transparency. Reservist Personnel will now have appropriate training and clear chains of command in order for them to apply legitimate authority, to intervene in disorder situations and to prevent criminal activity.
Reservist services will be applied in support of regular Police, particularly in remote and rural areas where Reservists have local community knowledge. All Reservists will be managed through the stringent and impartial recruitment and governance arrangements that were used to place 400 additional Reservists into Police Commands to supplement National General Election security.
Enduring Commitment to Nation Building
We. as Police, go to work every day to protect the people in our communities and to do our part in continuing to build our Nation. When there is crime, when violent offenders terrorise innocents and when tribal fights erupt, our people rightfully turn to the Police.
Dedicated Police are willing and able to be placed between conflicting parties and we will always stand up to do our jobs. This is a proud and enduring commitment we made when we placed our hand on the Bible and promised to serve our people. Sadly, many of our proud men and women in the Police Force have been seriously wounded or lost their lives in the line of duty. We also recognise that there are police personnel within our ranks that do not live up to our Code of Ethics and to the disciplinary rules that they must adhere to as detailed in the Police Act. As every day passes, we are identifying these individuals. and I call for public vigilance to report undisciplined behaviour, and together we will remove the bad apples from the Police Force.
Renewed Government Support
The actions and intentions that I have outlined are significant parts of our planning, under the strategic direction of the Minister for Internal Security and the Prime Minister.
There is much more that will be released in the coming Year of Law and Order under the key areas of focus for PREP. We have a once in a decade opportunity to harness the opportunities before us to deliver real and tangible change that will save lives and strengthen communities, and we must embrace the desire of our people to build our Nation for the betterment of all of our people.