The 47th Annual Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police (PICP) conference was this year hosted by the Nauru Police Force at the Menen Hotel in Nauru. Eighteen of the 21 PICP member countries were represented.

The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Security Challenges in an Online Pacific’, which is seen to be increasingly important and relevant throughout the Pacific, especially as there has been a significant increase in internet capability and accessibility in recent years. Each year the PICP conference provides an opportunity for the Chiefs to share, learn and build collective knowledge around policing in the Pacific.  Delegates received a number of presentations over the two days. These presentations highlighted the concerns, issues and progress being made throughout the Pacific in the area of cyber security.

After an early morning closed session of the PICP Executive Leadership Team (ELT), delegates assembled at the Menen Hotel Conference room for the arrival of His Excellency the President and Minister for Police Baron Diavesi Waqa MP and Madam Louisa Waqa. Following the official welcome speech by Nauru Police Commissioner Corey Caleb, His Excellency President Waqa delivered a key note speech to the conference, including discussing the upcoming Pacific Islands Forum being held in Nauru in September, where regional security will be a focal point. Both meetings, he said,  will be an example of strong regional relationships and the increasing participation and strength of Pacific Island Nations.

Guam Police Chief and PICP Chair, Joseph Cruz, chaired the conference, with the support of the new Executive Director of the PICP Secretariat. This was Superintendent Carl McLennan’s first Conference, after recently being appointed to the role permanently. In his update on the Secretariat, he acknowledged the work of his predecessor, Superintendent Waata Shepherd, and expressed his ideas and vision for the future of the Secretariat and PICP more broadly.

This conference also saw Nauru Police Commissioner Corey Caleb being welcomed on to ELT as the new Deputy Chair of PICP. The PICP Members voted in June 2018 to create the new position of Deputy Chair for a term of one year prior to becoming PICP Chair. In order to facilitate this transition, current PICP Chair Chief Cruz will continue as Chair for the upcoming year.

Eighteen agencies and organisations attended the conference as observers and presenters, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, New Zealand Police, Australian Federal Police, Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, USA Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Homeland Security Investigations. The balance of observers and police staff meant that more pertinent and contextualised discussion took place over the two days.

Session topics were Pacific Regionalism, an update on the Biketawa Plus and the signing of a Declaration of Partnership between PICP, Pacific Immigration Development Community (PIDC) and the Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO); Understanding the Environment, discussing Pacific cybercrime trends and sexual exploitation of children; Legislation and Operations, which included presentations on a child abuse offences review, online offending prosecutions processes and a case study from Tonga Police; and Training and Capability.

A key theme of the sessions was the need for improved sharing and communication, both amongst PICP and stakeholders. Tools to achieve this were presented, including the All Partners Access Network (APAN) online portal to enhance collaboration and information exchange for PICP members.

After each session, a Chief’s Panel was held, the purpose of which was to connect session content with jurisdictional experience, and provide an opportunity for all PICP members to participate in discussions applicable to their work.

Incoming PICP Women’s Advisory Network (WAN) Chair, Detective Inspector Efo Moalele, also addressed the conference, stating that the point of WAN is to empower women in policing, and to ensure that in police services women are valued and recognised as essential for the safety and security of communities. While numbers of women in policing is increasing, and there are more opportunities for training, mentoring and promotions to senior positions for women, there are still significant obstacles and barriers to overcome.

As a sign of support for women in policing, the annual PICP Chair’s Award for professionalism, outstanding contribution to policing and leadership was won by New Caledonia police force’s Capitaine Stephanie Ravel.

On Day Two, PICP members agreed to the creation of a Road Safe Pacific Programme, and instructed PICP Secretariat to continue work on establishing this important programme. It was also acknowledged the work that the Prevention Programme was doing, through New Zealand Police, on Prevention Operating Models and Strategies.

The conference proved valuable to learn about what PICP members are facing in their jurisdictions, and also to hear more about what organisations and donors are doing in the Pacific to tackle cyber-crime. A number of action items were identified to build on the learnings of the conference, and these will be reported on at next year’s conference, due to take place in American Samoa in August 2019.