Police struggle with high staff turnover
The Ministry of Police has called for higher salaries for sworn officers, saying that the force is being challenged by high rates of staff turnover.
The issue is highlighted in the Ministry of Police Annual Report 2018-2019.
The recommendation from the Ministry was accompanied by a request from Cabinet not just for better pay but procurement of operational safety equipment for all frontline members of the Samoa Police Service (S.P.S.).
The report highlighted the many challenges a lack of resources is causing the force, including a lack of access to capital; the absence of hardware such as handcuffs; and the inability of Police to properly equipped to respond to climate change and fast technology.
The Ministry also requested guidelines for a faster turnaround of Ministerial requests made by the Police after highlighting the slow response of Government processes as one the challenges the force faced during the Financial Year.
The Police’s revenue is mainly collected from public demand for providing services.
These include Police Clearance Reports; insurance reports for lost passports and property; Police reports relating to traffic offences; arms registrations; firearm and dealer permits; dog registration; and hiring a band and patrol boat for search and rescue purposes.
Meanwhile, the Ministry recorded a 143 per cent increase in revenue collection for the financial year 2018/2019.
"A total of $472,035 amount of fees have been collected by the Ministry on the reporting financial year," the report reads.
"Compared to the 330,640 projections as highlighted above, [the] S.P.S. achieved its target by 143 [per cent], an equivalent of $141,395 over-collected."
At the end of the financial year, the S.P.S. had only spent 94 per cent of their $22.4 million allocation from their Government budget appropriation, leaving a total of $1.32 million unspent.
The underuse of budget is attributed to low spending on the personnel budget due to high staff turnover which left several positions unfilled throughout the year.
The report says the leftover amount was useful in providing for operational costs and staff entitlements.
Meanwhile, the Ministry overspent its operations on behalf of the state, coming to a total of $3,236. The reason the budget was utilised at a rate of 105 per cent, the report says, was due to unforeseen operations, specially conducted investigations and raids; rental vehicles used for the transportation of V.I.P.s was also listed as contributing to the overspend.
The Ministry reported that their significant achievements during the year, included the development and implementation of a sex offender registry, the first for Samoa and the Pacific region.
The S.P.S. acknowledged that building the registry was made possible through a partnership with Australian Police and two donated vehicles which assisted the registry team.
The annual report also noted the receipt of $50,000 worth of instruments for the Band Unit from the Chinese Government and the upgrade of the Police Maritime Wing in preparation for the arrival of Nafanua II.
The new $30 million patrol boat was officially commissioned on 17 October last year.
Police also said they had increased the number of vehicles installed with Global Positioning Systems; installed radio repeaters and new communication channels for the S.P.S.
The Police say that the force benefited generally from improved information technology support; the delivery of more training sessions; and the continued renovation of Police outputs in Upolu.