Policing Transnational Crime in the Pacific: The Role of Culture and Community on the Frontline

Mr Jose Sousa-Santos1

1Australia Pacific Security College, Canberra, Australia

This paper will explore the challenges Pacific Islands law enforcement and their partners face in responding to transnational crime in the Pacific Islands region and the need to institutionalise a hybrid approach which incorporates both Western policing models with indigenous methods which centre culture and community. The paper will examine (1) the nexus between the transnational and local crime landscape in the Pacific; (2) how the cultural, social and hierarchical web of Pacific island families and societies serve as both the frontline against illicit activities and also, at times, a shield for actors reliant on impenetrable networks; and (3) the various policing models used to combat transnational crime and how these models can be strengthened through a hybrid approach. The paper will draw on the talanoa research methodology, often likened to “narrative interviews” which “reflect the lived realities of their participants” through “open, informal conversation between people in which they share their stories, thoughts and feelings” has been adopted (David Fa’avae et al 2016).


Jose Sousa-Santos is the Pacific Policy Fellow at the Australia Pacific Security College, Australian National University, a member of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Crime Network of Experts, and a doctoral researcher at Massey University. He is also the managing director of Strategika Group. His area of expertise and research is transnational crime, regional security and non-state actors in the Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia.


Dec 09 2021