Police Reforms to Improve Scrutiny, Transparency and Community Relations Announced

Last year it was announced that a number of reforms to policing would take place as part of a wider reorganisation to the structure of St Helena Government (SHG). These reforms to the Royal St Helena Police (RSHP) are aimed at strengthening transparency, performance management, community confidence and assuring the continued development of our policing service across both St Helena and Ascension.

Central to these important reforms is the implementation of a new Police and Crime Panel. The membership of the panel will be:

  • Governor (Chair)
  • Administrator, Ascension Island Government (AIG)
  • Minister for Safety, Security and Home Affairs, St Helena Government
  • Elected Member of the St Helena Legislative Council (selected by the Legislative Council)  
  • Portfolio Director, Safety Security and Home Affairs (SSHA)
  • Crown Prosecutor
  • Chief Executive Officer, Equality and Human Rights Commission

The panel will scrutinise police performance, assess progress against the objectives listed in the Police and Crime Plan and, if required, make recommendations to the Governor regarding desired improvements. The panel will also review complaints that may have been raised against the police.

In addition, several other important changes have also been implemented.

An independent peer review process for serious complaints has been established in conjunction with Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary (HIOWC). This will allow officers in the HIOWC to scrutinise and review how the RSHP investigates serious complaints about its services or staff, further enhancing transparency and confidence in our islands’ policing.

During the past year, Ascension Island Government (AIG) and RSHP have worked closely together to improve support to the police officers based in Ascension and to ensure that the level of service provided by RSHP is consistent across both islands. This is enabling the deployment of officers between St Helena and Ascension. This allows them to undertake important training and development activities, as well as facilitating the deployment of specialist staff to support investigations where required.

A key element of the police reforms is to monitor the confidence our communities have in the police service. Annual community surveys will be conducted to assess the impact that police activities have had on community confidence, identifying areas that need to be improved.

Coordination between RSHP and other public services is key to efficiency and the most effective use of public funds. To ensure that this takes place, formal agreements have been put in place between RSHP and the SSHA portfolio and between RSHP and AIG. 

Governor Nigel Phillips, said:

“An effective community focused police force requires public trust and engagement. It is my earnest hope these reforms will help foster that through increased transparency and multiple feedback mechanisms. I particularly welcome our engagement with Hampshire and the Isle of White Constabulary as it allows for ongoing, independent assessment and development of our police service. Let me also thank our dedicated police officers for their service.”

Chief Minister Julie Thomas, added:

“The Police and Crime Panel draws inspiration from UK models but remains focused on existing St Helena governance arrangements. The panel improves oversight but does not assume broader legislative roles, which are reserved for the Legislative Council”.

The first meeting of the Police and Crime Panelwill take place in April 2024. We welcome input from all community members and stakeholders as these reforms progress.

For more information about this matter please contact Chief of Police, David Price, by telephone on (00290) 22626 or by email through david.price@sainthelena.gov.sh. You can also view the Police and Crime Plan online at www.sainthelena.gov.sh/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/St-Helena-Police-Service-Police-and-Crime-Plan-v1.1.pdf.


Why are these police reforms necessary?

The reforms aim to strengthen public trust and confidence in the RSHP by promoting transparency. Partnership between police and the community is vital for an effective police service and underpins the principle of community policing.

What role will the new Police and Crime Panel play?

The panel will monitor police performance, foster better community engagement, and provide advice and guidance to ensure we align policing policies and priorities with public needs on both St Helena and Ascension.

How will the reforms impact public safety?

Expertise sharing with HIOWC will enable RSHP officers to gain experience and develop skills which will allow them to better serve our communities. Stronger connections between police and communities across both islands will also promote and improve public safety.

How can residents provide input on the reforms?

Residents can attend meetings of the panel, follow updates online or via the media, or reach out to Police and Crime Panel members directly with questions or suggestions once the panel has been established.

#StHelena #RSHP  



St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470
Email: communications@sainthelena.gov.sh