Australia and Vanuatu unveil new police and justice precinct

“The AFP has worked closely with the VPF to successfully deliver this precinct, despite various challenges thrown our way"

The Australian High Commissioner to Vanuatu Heidi Bootle and Vanuatu Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau opened a state-of-the-art police and justice precinct for the community of Rovo Bay on Vanuatu’s Epi Island, further expanding the Vanuatu Police Force’s (VPF) reach to remote communities.

The newly built precinct includes a police station and courthouse that will serve the local community consisting of about 5000 people, with the island located more than 100km north of the capital Port Vila. The new Nailae’na Epi Police station will house seven officers who will be responsible for protecting the local community as well as those on the surrounding islands.    

The AFP, through the Vanuatu-Australia Policing and Justice Program (VAPJP), worked with the governments of Vanuatu, Australia and the United Kingdom to construct the precinct over 18 months.

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The new station is equipped with state-of-the-art IT equipment provided under the AFP Pacific Initiatives and will enable the VPF to better respond to emergency incidents while providing enhanced reporting and data coordination.

Both the station and Nakoaena Epi Courthouse are run by solar power, funded by the UK High Commission in Vanuatu, and are built to be climate and cyclone resilient.

The precinct also includes a new playground for the community, which was funded through a Cyber Safety Pasifika and VPF charity golf day last year.  

Both the station and court house have been named in the local Lewo language. The Nailae’na Epi Police Station translates to, if you come to us, we will provide you service. If you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

The Nakoaena Epi Courthouse translates to, when you go to court and receive a penalty, this is to help you understand what you have done is wrong and help you change your ways.

Image: Delegates at the new police precinct ( Source: AFP)

AFP Detective Superintendent Melissa Northam said the AFP was proud to have played a role in ensuring the VPF could expand its capability and reach to communities that needed it most.

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“The AFP has worked closely with the VPF to successfully deliver this precinct, despite various challenges thrown our way, including delays from COVID-19, along with Tropical Cyclones Judy and Kevin,” Det Supt Northam said.

“The new precinct will improve access to law enforcement and justice services for the Epi Island community and the AFP is honoured to have contributed to this important initiative together with the Vanuatu Police Force.”

“The AFP has a steadfast partnership with VPF, exemplified through important projects like these new policing facilities”, said Acting VPF Commissioner Astrophile Mwele.

Det Supt Northam affirmed, “We will continue to collaborate with VPF, working together to upskill and enhance the capabilities of our law enforcement partners.”

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