Tonga Update

hayley-ryanThe Domestic Violence Unit in Nuku’alofa is increasing its Police capacity in leaps and bounds, even though there have been a few set backs in  the last year; the main one being the resignation of the Officer in Charge of the unit, ACIP Manu. The Programme wishes Manu well for the future and thanks him for his excellent work and leadership of the Unit. The  Tonga Police Force has appointed Detective Sergeant Seteone Poutele to fll that role. I look forward to working with D/S Seteone Poutele on the PPDVP and wish him well with his appointment.

D/S Seteone Poutele’s appointment marked a place in the Tonga Police Force history, as it was the frst time that a vacancy has been advertised internally and interested candidates were able to apply for the position.  The new appointment process coincided with Commander Chris Kelly commencing his position in Tonga on 15 September 2008. I was fortunate enough to be “in country” at the time of Commander Kelly’s arrival in Tonga.  Even though Commander Kelly was extremely busy during his frst week “on the job” he made time to see me and I was able to give him a briefng on the progress of the Domestic Violence Unit.  Commander Kelly assured me that he was fully behind the future progress and success of the Domestic Violence Unit.

Before D/S Seteone Poutele’s appointment, there were a few months where Sergeant Peleki and Corporal Hinemoa held the unit together and ensured that it remained fully functioning, even though they were understafed. I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication they have shown and I believe both have the dedication and are developing the capability of being the Ofcer in Charge of the unit in the future.

The past year has fown by and a lot has been achieved by the Domestic Violence Unit.  The database which captures vital domestic violence statistics is up and running and the unit has recorded over 350 complaints since its opening in June 2007. The unit has also concentrated on developing partnerships with other domestic violence service providers.

Tonga’s Domestic Violence Unit recognises that the problem cannot be solved by any one agency and we all must work together to make Tonga a safe place for families to be. In particular, a great relationship between the Domestic Violence Unit and the National Centre of Women and Children has developed. Both agencies are meeting weekly to discuss the week’s reported domestic violence incidents, and ensure that victims and children are receiving wrap-around support.

In June 2008, Tonga hosted the PPDVP Investigative Training Workshop, which was attended not only by representatives from each of the programmes participating countries, but from other nations throughout the Pacifc. Thirteen Pacifc Nations Police services were represented by up to 40 staf at the workshop.  Not only did the participants learn a great number of skills, but it also enabled all Police Ofcers working in the Domestic Violence area who attended to get to know each other, “bounce” ideas of one another and learn from each others experiences.

As I have said earlier in this article the Tonga Domestic Violence Unit has had its setbacks since the time that the PPDVP commenced in the Pacifc, but I am proud to say that the unit is progressing and it is doing some great work in keeping victims safe.

Detective Hayley Ryan

Tonga Mentor

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