Tonga Update

The PPDVP in Tonga is progressing in leaps and bounds.  The progression of the programme has coincided with the appointment of Commander Chris Kelley.  With his full support Tonga Police Force is dealing with all domestic violence incidents with a new passion. 

My last deployment into Tonga was in May 2009 where Inspector Tony Wakelin, Senior Sergeant Dave Ryan and I delivered a two week domestic violence ‘Train the Trainer’ package to 16 enthusiastic police officers.  These officers were selected from all the Policing Districts throughout Tonga.

A number of them have also been chosen to hold the Domestic Violence portfolio within their police stations on their return.  The course went extremely well. The officers who attended not only learnt a lot about domestic violence but the majority of them are now able to deliver the same package to officers in their home stations.

Tonga now has an officer who holds the Domestic Violence portfolio in every station on Tongatapu and in all districts on the outer islands.  This is a first for the Tonga Police. The officers who were selected to take on this role have been chosen wisely. They are all dedicated in making victims safe and all offenders accountable.

During this deployment I was invited along with Cam Ronald to attend two Committee meetings.  The first of these was with the Tonga Police National Domestic Violence Committee.  This committee was instigated by Commander Kelley and includes within its members all the Police District Commanders throughout Tonga as well as Assistant Commander Tupouniua, the Executive Sponsor of the National Domestic Violence Unit within Tonga, and Commander Kelley.  The national committee discusses domestic violence incidents that have occurred in each district and ensures that all incidents are being appropriately responded to by the Tonga Police Force. 

The second committee was the National Domestic Violence Committee.  This is another initiated by Commander Kelley.   It includes within its members representatives from NGO’s and Government Departments within Tonga.  The committee purpose is to provide a national oversight on domestic violence Police policy, legislation and Police practice. 

With Commander Kelley’s support Tonga Police has also adopted a “no drop” rule towards all offences that are related to domestic violence incidents. All offences are now being prosecuted and are not be withdrawn without the Commander’s approval. 

This includes cases that involve victims recanting their complaint and not wanting to provide evidence in court. The Tonga Police view now is that other evidence besides the victim’s complaint can be presented to the Court to prove the offence.

There is considerable support and strong partnerships that the Domestic Violence Unit (DVU) has formed with a number of NGOs within Tonga.  Without the fantastic work that these agencies are performing, the Domestic Violence Unit would not have progressed in the manner in which it has. 

In particular the National Centre of Women and Children is working closely with each member of the DVU and has adopted a reciprocal referral system of all victims reporting domestic violence abuse. This system ensures the victims receive full support.  All referrals are discussed at a weekly meeting attended by both organisations where they discuss, plan and action issues from each meeting. This attempts to ensure the continual safety of each victim. 

In the future other agencies will also be in a position to attend and contribute to these weekly meetings.

Detective Haley Ryan
Tonga Mentor

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