[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The 45th Annual Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police (PICP) Conference was held in Tahiti, French Polynesia from 19th – 21st September 2016.  This is the second time French Polynesia has hosted the PICP conference, previously in 1982.  The conference was attended by representatives from 19 of the 21 Member countries, with Samoa and American Samoa not represented.  Timor-Leste and Bougainville attended the conference as observers, as well as a number of other invited regional law and justice sector partner organisations.

The theme for the 2016 PICP conference was “Pour le Pacifique, par le Pacifique” (for the Pacific, by the Pacific) encouraging strong and courageous leadership by all PICP Members.  As with every year, the 2016 conference provided an opportunity for PICP Members to gather together, share, learn and build collective knowledge around policing in the Pacific.

Conference Day One

The conference was officially opened by the French High Commissioner, His Excellency René Bidal.  In welcoming all delegates His Excellency acknowledged the work of law enforcement in the Pacific and stressed the importance of regional collaboration and the need to continue to work together for a safer Pacific.  The outgoing PICP Chair, Commissioner Tony Edwards of Niue Police, officially handed over the position of Chair to Commissioner François Perrault of French Polynesia.

The commencement of the formal meeting saw the showcasing of the French Policing system in French Polynesia – in particular highlighting the jurisdiction divisions between the Police Nationale and the Gendarmerie – followed by an update on the PICP Women’s Advisory Network (PICP-WAN) programme.

NZ Blue Light, a youth-focused organisation, presented on programmes offered to build resiliency in young people through a ‘Prevention First’ approach.  Members welcomed the opportunity to explore this approach further for the Pacific and unanimously expressed their support for programmes such as Blue Light as an excellent way for Police to engage with young people.

Conference Day Two

A strong emphasis at the 2016 conference was on transnational and international crime issues in the Pacific.  The Pacific Transnational Crime Network (PTCN) in their annual report outlined current or emerging trends from a regional perspective.  These were further highlighted in the presentation by the Pacific Transnational Crime and Coordinator Centre (PTCCC) based in Samoa, drilling down on three serious emerging issues:

  • Methamphetamine and the transhipment zones throughout the Pacific, including a local case-study presentation by the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.
  • Criminal Deportees returning to Pacific nations and the lack of resources small Pacific countries have to manage with these individuals who may have left the island as children. This included a local perspective presentation by Tonga Police.
  • Organised Motor Cycle Gangs (OMG’s) and the importance of monitoring the movements of such organisations within the Pacific.

Members acknowledged the take-away message – that in order to combat organised crime regionally more coordination and collaboration is required from PICP Members and with partner law enforcement agencies.

The 2016 PICP conference saw the first-time inclusion of the PICP-WAN Chairs’ meeting.  The PICP-WAN Chairs were invited to discuss and share current issues affecting women in Pacific policing.  It provided an excellent opportunity for them to raise burning issues directly with Members, and to collectively workshop potential solutions to some of those issues, in particular the attraction and retention of women in policing.  The PICP-WAN Chairs will continue to meet biennially, with the next meeting due to coincide with the 2018 PICP Conference.

Other discussions on day two looked at proposed changes to the Pacific Prevention of Domestic Violence Programme (PPDVP) and the Information and Technology programme (PPITP).  In-depth discussion on recommended changes to both programmes were deferred to the Members’ Retreat.

Conference Day Three

Day three saw further updates from the Pacific Police Training Advisory Group (PPTAG), Pacific Police Crime Prevention Programme (PPCPP), Pacific Forensic Working Group (PFWG) and Cyber Safety Pasifika (CSP). Agreement was reached to support CSP into its implementation phase taking a three-pronged approach to combat cybercrime in the Pacific.

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat presented on climate change migration and the potential impacts on security in the Pacific.  Members acknowledged climate change as no longer just an environmental issue but one having increasing policy implications and considerations for Pacific policing.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime used the 2016 PICP conference to officially launch its report on Transnational and International Crime trends.  New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush and Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin both thanked the group for the report on behalf of all Members.

Other presentations by regional partner organisations included the Pacific Islands Law Officers Network, Pacific Search and Rescue, Oceanian Customs Organisation, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the US Department of Justice.

Local policing activities and initiatives were presented on in relation to crime prevention (Solomon Islands), emergency management (Niue) and community policing (Nauru).

Members’ Retreat Day Four

The PICP Members’ Retreat was held on Thursday 22nd September 2016.

2017 Conference Venue

The next PICP Conference is scheduled to be held in Guam in August 2017.

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