23 Sep 2002

Britain to continue with plans to find an expatriate police commissioner for Solomon Islands

3:28 pm on 23 September 2002

The British government is continuing with plans to recruit a police commissioner for Solomon Islands, despite senior Solomons officers saying they do not want to be led by a foreigner.

The appointment of an expatriate commissioner is one of several moves being considered by aid donors and the Solomons Government to restructure and revitalise a police force compromised by its involvement in the ethnic unrest.

The British High Commissioner, Bryan Baldwin, says they will continue to search for a British officer to take up the job, hopefully early in the new year, unless they hear otherwise from the Solomons government.

Last week, senior police executives said they wanted the job to go to a Solomon Islander, with the contract of outgoing Commissioner, Morton Sireheti, extended for another two years.

But Mr Baldwin says the aim in bringing in an expatriate is to restore the public's confidence in the force.

"There is no doubt that that confidence was at a very low level and that it's really to restore that confidence to get things back on a proper footing. Because the Solomon Islands police force was one of the highest respected force in the region in the 90's and 80's, so what we are trying to do is get that position back again and get the show back on the road again."

Bryan Baldwin.