Australian Report Criticizes State Of Police In Palau

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2012 survey claims public safety disorganized, ineffective

By Peter Erick Magbanua

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, April 4, 2013) – The Bureau of Public Safety (BPS) is not effectively structured and resourced to meet its core policing functions, services and community policing requirements, the baseline report by the Australian Federal Police on the Operational Policing Survey (OPS) of Palau and the Bureau of Police reveals.

The survey was done in February 2012. It also included policing, finance, information management and organizational performance expertise.

The aim of the project is to deliver a baseline survey of the BPS and to provide the following: a robust understanding of the current policing sector to include: organizational structures and functions (service delivery); personnel and human resource management; operational planning and response capabilities; equipment and logistics management; financial management; judicial and legislative controls.

The OPS does not seek to make any judgments or recommendations for improvement. The report aims to provide statements of fact and represent current perceptions.

Aside from not being effectively structured, the report also states that policing functions within the BPS include too many non-policing roles, which is eroding the ability of the bureau to deliver its core police services; there is a strong sense of frustration (real and perceived) across the community in the capacity and effectiveness of the national police; juvenile crime and community policing activities appear to be the highest crime priority areas for the BPS - yet they remain the least visible and under resourced; and morale across the ranks and management of the BPS is low and there is a strong sense of the unrealized potential of the organization.

The report also added that there is an absence of effective strategic management, financial, workforce and business planning, which reflects on the ability of the bureau to win further resources for core and high priority policing areas from government, other donors, and the community.

There is no effectively managed and prioritized training plan and schedule; the effectiveness of the international training programs and donor support is being eroded where training is delivered to the wrong areas, is not being prioritized and the training needs should be better managed.

Financial and resource impediments are having an impact on core policing, however, there are also many unrealized efficiencies across the organization; and there is a major vulnerability in the governance and systemization of the bureau – yet to be more effective, this must be supported by improved organizational structures, better case management, strengthened administrative support and greater skills in the use of the systems; core policing skills and capabilities are lacking which is limiting the ability of the police to effectively deliver community and juvenile programs; there are an extensive range of operating processes and standard procedures – yet they are not being followed or applied.

There are no internal governance processes for community (or police) complaints against police, which is a significant confidence measure across the community; the effectiveness of the BPS is being greatly reduced through the use of friends and relatives (e.g. employment of friends and relatives) by key staff, which is also being facilitated through an absence of proper governance, transparency, merit promotion and recognition of service

Case management of investigative processes across Criminal Investigation, Fisheries and Wildlife and Patrol Divisions do not appear to be managed properly, prioritized according to need or risk, and do not reflect the community and governments requirements, e.g. Narcotics; and the bureau operates within internal divisional silos and the organization needs to work better within a Whole-of-Government approach to policing, e.g. sharing of services with customs, immigration and juvenile justice programs.

Vice President and Justice Minister Antonio Bells yesterday said that he is taking the report and the findings seriously because they are similar to the findings of the current assessment of the BPS.

"We will use it as a guiding document for implementation to rectify the current challenges and shortfalls at the BPS," Bells added.

The OPS aims to provide an ‘as is’ picture of the police and the report has been produced for the AFP, the BPS and the Government of Palau.

The baseline survey excludes those functions not considered as core policing services, and is restricted to the ‘as is’ environment, not the ‘to be’. That is, the OPS is not intended to offer solutions or recommendations on the way forward, yet it is intended to describe key vulnerabilities, performance and weaknesses across the policing processes, systems, relationships and people.

Over 16 focus groups and 28 interviews were undertaken as part of the baseline survey, with a total of nearly 50 interviews.

An important aspect in the conduct of the OPS was the use of focus groups from across the community, government and police. Individual and small group and individual interviews then complemented the focus groups.

The process of focus groups and interviews was conducted with anonymity and non-attribution and none of the comments and opinions offered have been attributed or accounted for against specific groups or individuals.

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