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For the past 14 years, approximately one-fifth of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) Participating Police Force (PPF) has comprised police from 13 Pacific Island countries, referred to as the Pacific Islands contingent. As RAMSI was drawing to a close, it was timely to assess the impact of their involvement on police and policing in the region. Supported by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the research project was undertaken in 2017 by a team from the Australian National University’s Department of Pacific Affairs.
This report draws from more than 100 interviews with key stakeholders and former Pacific Islands contingent members, and a short written survey of 37 former Pacific Islands contingent members. The focus was on the views and experiences of Pacific Islands contingent members concerning the impact of their deployment on them individually, their home police organisations and policing in the region.
Funded by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and supported by the Pacific Islands Forum and the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police (PICP), the research project commenced at the end of 2016. With RAMSI ending in mid-2017 it was seen as a good time to review its effect and impact on the individual members of the Pacific Islands contingent police, their home police organisations, and, broadly, on regional policing. The research had two main goals. Firstly, to capture and describe the experiences and views of Pacific Islands contingent members and, secondly, to provide a more strategic and analytical assessment of the lessons learnt from this multi-country police-led mission.
The project was guided by several interlinked key questions:
• What are the lessons learned from RAMSI about the deployment of a multi-country police operation in the Pacific?
• How has RAMSI affected individual members of the Pacific Islands contingent and their policing practices?
• What are the lessons learned from RAMSI about the role of women officers in the PPF, and, in particular, the prevention of community violence and violence against women?
• How has the RAMSI experience affected the quality and integrity of Pacific Island policing and police forces?
• How has RAMSI affected the degree and quality of relationships among police forces in the region?
• How can the RAMSI experience be consolidated and built upon to enhance future connectivity between Pacific police?
The research was primarily aimed at eliciting the views of Pacific Islands contingent members. However, it was also complemented by interviews with a range of other stakeholders, mainly senior police officers and RAMSI executives, including former PPF Commanders and Special Coordinators.
The report represents a synthesis of the research material, including information provided by the AFP, interviews, and survey results. Excerpts from interviews or interview notes are used to illustrate the points made in the report, and where relevant, survey results are included.
Based on the research, the project’s recommendations relate primarily to lessons learnt for future large multi-country deployments in the region. These include active engagement of Pacific Island police in the design, preparation and management of such missions, as well as more specific measures to assist effective understanding and collaborative learning among members of the mission.