5 Jun 2006

Former Solomon Islands police officer says failure to control riots inexplicable

5:48 am on 5 June 2006

A former Solomon Islands Assistant Commissioner of police, Mike Wheatley, says the failure of police and the Regional Assistance Mission, or RAMSI, to control the riots in Honiara, is inexplicable.

The former commissioner, who was also a long term Australian army officer, says there were tried and true responses that had been developed over the years by Solomon Islands police to deal with mob situations.

Officials claimed the rioting following the election of the prime minister, was a suprise, that there was an intelligence failure and that numbers were overwhelming but Mr Wheatley says that shouldn't have mattered.

"Even if there was a lack of intelligence available, something did really happen as a surprise, there are well established procedures, if you go back through the history of the police force, there are well established procedures to call out, to muster people, to call out including headquarters staff, and one of the first places you respond to, is Chinatown."

Mr Wheatley says there were many situations where mobs, who had gathered after a soccer match, or demonstrations, were turned back by police manning roads into Chinatown and the bridge.

He says RAMSI needs to take local police advice on responding to these issues rather than import Australian models.