20 Nov 2007

New regional effort to mentor PNG Bougainville police

2:36 pm on 20 November 2007

New Zealand and Australia are to lead a team of police from around the Pacific who will mentor their counterparts in the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville after concerns that morale and discipline are declining.

Bougainville got its own police force as part of the agreement establishing it as an autonomous province two and a half years ago.

But Bougainville's police minister, Ezekiel Masatt, says he asked for help after noticing standards declining within the largely inexperienced force.

"We have had a lot of young policemen come out but we haven't had the managerial rank and file who are able to provide the mentoring and supervision. Consequently we saw a decline in discipline and a few other worrying signs and we have asked for Australia and New Zealand to come in and provide that mentoring and that sort of assistance to get our young men back on track."

For the past seven years, New Zealand has had five officers developing policing services at village level and this will continue.

The mentoring is a joint New Zealand/Australian aid project and it will also involve police officers from other Pacific countries.