Building Trust – Community Policing in Afghanistan
One of the priority areas of German engagement in Afghanistan is to help establish a well-structured and well-organised national police service, the Afghan National Police (ANP). This presents considerable challenges. Quite apart from the tense security situation and operational deficits, there is little cooperation between citizens and the police. These factors are an obstacle to effective policing based on the rule of law. Within the ANP, there is very little emphasis on social skills such as effective communication, teamwork, conflict management and conflict resolution. These deficiencies constrain its development into a more professional police service.
The objective of the programme is to strengthen public trust in the police and help the police service to resolve internal difficulties and conflicts efficiently and peacefully.
Measures and results
It is now a clearly established belief worldwide that police services must increasingly strive to involve local communities in their work. The Community Policing (CP) approach is now of key importance to the ANP. This concept focuses on establishing close contact between the police and communities. To make this possible, the Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoIA) has established the necessary structures in all 34 of the country’s provinces. These structures are the starting point for the German Cooperation with Afghanistan.
In order to strengthen the trust of the communities in the police service, the project helps to organise and implement dialogue forums so that local people can discuss their concerns directly with the police, especially in relation to security. In 2018, the project supported 360 public consultation meetings at district level with around 7,200 participants.
More general problems and issues are raised and discussed at a series of annual conferences held at provincial level. These are attended by senior representatives of the police service, provincial governments and civil society.
The programme also organises school-based activities. To date, around 36,000 children of all ages have attended information events designed to give them a better understanding of the police service and its role in society. They also act as a forum in which police officers can pass on useful information, for example on the correct action to take in an emergency.
Regular training courses are held to familiarise police officers with the community policing approach, to highlight the importance of social skills and how they can help to resolve internal difficulties and conflicts. Depending on the training focus, these courses may be attended by senior managers, teachers, specially trained community policing officers, or ordinary patrol officers. In 2018, courses were held for a total of 240 police officers.
Following an initial focus on the northern provinces (Badakhshan, Balkh, Jowzjan, Kunduz, Samangan and Takhar), support has now been extended to nine others (Kabul, Herat, Bamyan, Kunar, Laghman, Nangarhar, Nuristan, Panjshir and Parwan). Alongside the Afghan authorities, the project works closely with the German Police Project Team (GPPT) in Afghanistan.