Police upgrade investigative skills

Western Province police officers have upgraded their skills in investigating and prosecuting family and sexual violence cases.

Tabubil-based Senior Detective Constable Ruso Hate said the ‘Strengthening family sexual violence investigations and prosecution workshop’ had given him the knowledge to lay appropriate charges for different types of sexual offences, including rape, sexual assault and sexual penetration.

Detective Hate, who works in Tabubil’s Criminal Investigation Division, said it was frustrating and concerning to see charges against alleged sexual offenders thrown out of court because of technical errors in the charging process.

“Sometimes in the field, we are not sure on some of the charges,” he said.

“We charge offenders and when we go to court, cases will be withdrawn or struck out due to inappropriate charges.”

He said the training he received could change that.

“In this training we now know the appropriate charges and the appropriate wording of charges that we must use, depending on the circumstances of offences.

“This is particularly important for officers working at isolated locations like Tabubil, where they must be across many areas of the law, and in a typical day can encounter everything from family and sexual violence to breaking and entering, drug trafficking, child abuse, robbery and murder.”

Detective Hate said officers face a daunting task policing their community while keeping up with the latest amendments to legislation such as the Criminal Code Act, and the workshop had been invaluable in bringing him up-to-date with changes to the law.

“We are happy that during the workshop the facilitators presented the relevant Acts that will guide us with our day-to-day work in the field.”

At the workshop, he also learnt the importance of not forming judgements of people coming to police for help, particularly women.

“When female victims come to the police station, sometimes we ignore them because of their previous history. We don’t take them very seriously. We have to forget about their history and attend to whatever complaints they approach us with. 

“Females who come to the police stations are the most vulnerable victims and when we don’t help them, they shy away from the police and suffer in silence,” he said.

Constable Lina Gigmai said after five years working in the public safety division of Tabubil Police Station she is now confident to take on any family or sexual violence cases that come up during her watch.

“From what I learnt in this workshop, it has given me the confidence to do my files, investigations and take FSV cases to court.

“I’ve learnt that every complaint that is laid by women must not be treated as shallow. If it’s sexual assault or rape, it’s not a marriage problem but a crime and we must investigate and prosecute,” Constable Gigmai said.

The workshop was conducted by the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary and the Office of the Public Prosecutor with support from the Australian government through the Papua New Guinea-Australia Partnership.

(Some of the participants from Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary at the Strengthening FSV Investigations and Prosecution Workshop in Kiunga recently)

Press release