Cutting of cake (L-R) – Inspector Lily Joel, Chief Inspector Donald James, VPF Commissioner Colonel Robson Iavro and Australia’s High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Heidi Bootle – Photo by Ezra Toara

The Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) has opened a new office space in Equity House, Port Vila, to provide better functional working space for its Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Family Protection Unit (FPU), Forensics, and the newly established Cyber-Investigation Unit.

The VPF’s move was made in readiness for the new VPF structure, which will come into effect on 1{sup}st {/sup}of June, and it is in line with recommendations identified by the organisational performance study released in April 2022.

The Australian government, through the Vanuatu-Australia Policing and Justice Program (VAPJP) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP), provided support for the project.

The new office space provides private areas for interviewing victims of traumatic crimes, such as sexual assault, and a child-friendly space within the FPU to assist victims of domestic violence in providing information in a safe environment.

The office space will also enable the entire CID portfolio to be together under one roof for the first time in many years. The FPU’s new working space will include a child interviewing room and a safer, more sensitive and friendly environment for victims of crime.

Colonel Robson Iavro, Commissioner of the VPF, stated that operating within the newly established facilities will be new capabilities, including digital forensics and the Automated Fingerprints Information Systems (AFIS) gifted to the VPF through AFP program initiatives in 2022. He also emphasised the importance of the support for the cyber-crime unit and how it aligns with various government priorities and plans.

The new Cyber-Investigations Unit will be at the forefront of protection against threats in Vanuatu, where cybercrime has been increasing rapidly.

The VPF continues to appeal to members of the public to report any cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, or child abuse immediately for investigation by police. Communities are also warned about internet fraud and scams and to report any occurrences to the police.

Australian High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Heidi Bootle, commended the VPF on these improved facilities and stated that the partnership between Vanuatu and Australia continues to support the delivery of critical services to the people of Vanuatu.

She added that these facilities will provide a safe and effective operating environment for VPF officers and enhance their capabilities throughout the Force.

The total cost of lease on the new office space was VT4, 226,088 per year, with all bonds paid by the VPF. The leasing agency has also assisted with the establishment through installation of new air conditioning units and a painting program being completed.

The refurbishment costs are VT4, 727,126 inclusive of all infrastructure works to separate units, ICT support for setup of new hardware and software, and the provision of other equipment for the CID and FPU portions of work. The total cost of refurbishment for the child-friendly space was VT173, 000, inclusive of all equipment and fit-out.

The new office space will enable the VPF to improve the delivery of everyday service to the people of Vanuatu and enhance its contributions to achieving the national security strategy objectives, including efforts to detect, prevent and respond to cyber-threats.

In case of emergency, people can call 111 and ask to speak to the FPU or Cyber Crime Office. For all in-house enquiries, the new VPF office space is located on the ground floor of Equity House behind Vila Mall.