ISLAND SUN ARTICLE REFERRING TO MY BOOK ‘POLICING A CLASH OF CULTURES’

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DEAR EDITOR,

I have become aware that a recent reference was made in your newspaper to what I had to say in my book ‘Policing a Clash of Cultures’ which I wrote recounting the happenings at the time of holding the office of Commissioner of Police in the Solomon Islands from July 1997 to July 1999.

The particular reference related to the Police Credit Union.

For the purpose of the record, here is the text of what I said in my book.

“At the time I was given the board’s list of promotion recommendations, there surfaced information regarding the misuse of police funds.

“This financial scandal surfaced because a ‘whistle blower’ tipped me off that money had been loaned to many serving and past members of the Force but had never been paid back. The informant, a junior police officer, had applied for a sum of money as a loan to help pay for funeral expenses. He was told there was no money left to help him.

“The source of these loans was the Police Club at Rove which made an annual profit – excellent.

“These profits, were mainly from sales of alcohol, and were deposited into the equivalent of a Credit Union account under the supervision of the secretary, who was the Commandant of the Police Academy at the time. The original aim was to use the profits as short term loans to help out officers with the type of problem that had caused the scandal to surface.

“I did two things immediately.

First, I called for all the books and went over them.

“They showed that large sums of money had, indeed, been paid out to several senior serving and past officers, including the former Police Commissioner and the present Deputy Commissioner, but no trace of any return payments. There were enough loans to show a deliberate raiding of police funds by a select few senior or other insiders from within the police hierarchy.

“One example showed a Chief Inspector on the staff of the Police Academy had been loaned so much money, it was difficult to see how he could possibly repay it from his salary alone: nor was there any sign of any attempt to make any form of repayment.

“And this was interest free money…

“He was also one of those officers who, along with other delinquents had been recommended to me for promotion.

“The Governor of the Central Bank had the responsibility in terms of the Credit Union’s charter to audit the books annually; however this had never been done.

“The second positive action was to hand carry to his office the account records, including cheque stubs, for auditing purposes. There his office soon discovered that there had indeed been malpractice.

“Then the inquiry stopped, or at least nothing actually happened about the problem from the Governor of the Central Bank before my departure.

“I also appeared before the Police and Prison Service Commission and explained to the Chairman and members why I had blocked the promotions of certain members of the police.

“The Chairman, who happened to be the Chief Justice, agreed.”

I trust this disclosure will aid the discussion, if any, on what really occurred prior to my leaving office.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

 

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